On February 12, professor Gus John visited Sky News’ studios for an interview where he accused the coalition government of taking a back seat in the fight against racism in football. The following article was published on the Sky Sports website and contains excerpts from his contribution.
Race relations advisor Professor Gus John says the government should take the lead in attempts to eradicate racism from football.
Sky Sports News sent their Special Report team to a number of football grounds around the country where several incidents of vile chanting were recorded.
Professor John commended Sky Sports News for uncovering the footage but said that the onus was on individual clubs to monitor what went on in their stadium.
And John insists that a strong message from the government would help gives clubs the power and inclination needed to police their grounds.
“It is shocking for a number of reasons“, said John.
“Firstly, the fact that individuals consider that it is okay for them to conduct themselves in that abusive manner and the fact that, in one match, one player could be abused 56 times without anyone intervening.
“The Millwall representative said that the footage would be passed to the police but it shouldn’t take Sky Sports News to identify for them what is going on in their grounds.
“Given the history of racism in football and at Millwall in particular it is essential that the club itself puts in place mechanisms whereby such individuals could be identified, taken to the police and appropriate action should follow.
“In other words, given the number of black players that are in the game in this country, it is really quite unacceptable that any player should expect to be treated in those ways on any football pitch in the UK.
John also said the government should be more directly involved in helping to combat racism in football, especially given the tax revenues raised by the sport.
“What we saw in your footage were endless examples of hate crime being committed. There needs to be a hate crime forum that actually takes account of these things in the same way that the government is concerned about other forms of crime.
“The government must acknowledge that football brings in huge amounts of revenue every single week to government and therefore they need to take the lead in ensuring that individual clubs do what they must to eliminate that kind of hate crime that black footballers experience every week.
“There must be a zero-tolerance policy and the government must ensure that that policy is actually implemented.”
Picture (home): “Arsenal v. Aston Villa – 27/12/09” by dishwab (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)