Saturday, July 14, 2012

(Racist) Insult to Injury

GUEST POST: Inside Left is delighted to carry a guest post from Richie Moran. Rich is an ex-professional footballer who left the game sick at its endemic racism. He is now an author and anti-racist campaigner. Here are his thoughts about the acquittal of John Terry from charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, and more generally about the state of the 'beautiful game'.

As former professional footballer who made a conscious decision to leave the game as I was simply not prepared to accept the overt, covert and institutional racism I was subjected to, I ask every footballer from the parks to the pro game to remember Friday 13th 2012. That was simply the date that magistrate, Howard Riddle gave anybody carte blanche to use the most vile of racist insults and walk away scot free.

I have just read the summing up and I also saw the YouTube footage before it was removed. Having had those words mouthed at me at every level of football from other players, managers, crowd members and sadly closer to home, I know what I saw and as the aforementioned magistrate states on several occasions "there is no doubt that John Terry clearly directed the words "black cunt" at Anton Ferdinand. Yet until the last couple of paragraphs of said summing up, which also questions Terry's integrity and affirms Ferdinand’s, it would seem that Teflon John was guilty.

Yet as I had predicted, he has somehow walked away an innocent man, with Riddle stating that he may not have uttered those words as an insult. Maybe like Ron Atkinson when he called the multi-lingual, World and European champion Marcel Desailly "a lazy fucking thick nigger" he was merely being ironic!!!

Terry's assertion that he was merely repeating what he thought he had been accused of was as laughable as the day I saw Michael Jackson deny he had had any plastic surgery in an interview. This verdict merely enhanced the fact that most premier league footballers can behave exactly as they wish with little or no fear of redress - legal or otherwise. Indeed had he been found guilty multi-millionaire Terry would probably have had the maximum £2500 fine in loose change in the ashtray of his car.

What this whole case demonstrates is that racism in football is as ever merely a microcosm of society itself. Despite the magnificent work of the likes of Kick it Out and FARE and the smug platitudes of Lawrenson, Hansen, Shearer et al, society's most insidious evil is still ever present. During Euro 2012, many of the England management, officials and players went to visit Auschwitz (scene of one of history's most racist crimes) and a factory run by Oskar Schindler.

Terry was one of those pictured looking suitably sombre, knowing what he had said and how it was intended. Roy Hodgson stated that everyone should visit such places. The same Roy Hodgson who in season 97/98 dismissed Eyal Berkovic’s claims that he had been subjected to anti-Semitic remarks by one of Hodgson’s Blackburn players as “a storm in a teacup”. The self same Roy Hodgson who was happy to take the apartheid rand earlier in his career!

Did the attendant Liverpool players who disgracefully wore t-shirts defending Luis Suarez’s racist rant at Patrice Evra (my Spanish is passable and again I was sent the transcript of what was actually said and it was racist in the extreme) reflect on the enormity of their actions at such a venue.

Ashley Cole as ever (his wife was once charged with calling a nightclub worker a black bitch, although the black was later dropped) was true to form with his selective hearing and indeed his post match brokering role to ensure things went no further.

Sir Trevor Brooking was I believe also present. The same Sir Trevor Brooking who told me when I shared a speakers platform with him in Brixton in 1999, who told me that when he played with Clyde Best in the 60’s and 70’s at West Ham that he never once heard him get any racial abuse from the crowd!

Before anyone (Robert Kilroy-Silk in particular at me on his show) uses that tiresome question of semantics, whereby they say abusing someone for the colour of their skin is no different from people being abused because they are overweight, have red hair or wear glasses; I will tell you what I told him.

The use of derogatory racist language is the first step in the dehumanising process that leads to slaughter and genocide. Millions of people were not taken from my ancestral homeland and forced into slavery because they were overweight, had red hair or wore glasses. The Nazis did not systematically slaughter 6 million Jews for those reasons, nor did successive Afrikaner governments deny my brethren their most basic human rights for any of those reasons. To actually equate that with the victims of humanity’s greatest crimes is a gross insult to millions of people.

My beautiful son was subjected to racist abuse in his first ever 11 a side game when he was ten. This season just gone he rang me after a game I had not been at to tell me that the referee (the coach of the opposing side) had squared up to him. The ‘man’ in question, one Steve Clarke of Havant and Waterlooville under 15’s, was subsequently discovered to be a member of the English Defence League who had posted racist and homophobic comments on his Facebook page. In time honoured fashion he of course claimed someone had accessed his file.

Owing to the persistence of my sons club and one parent in particular, Angie Napolitano, he has subsequently been banned from football for 2 years with one year suspended. I received an e-mail confirming this, this morning from Mark Ives of the FA (that’ll really teach Clarke a lesson, eh?) despite the fact that I firmly believe many people on various bodies wanted this brushed under the carpet.

For many years I was asked to speak at various anti-racism conferences until many of the powers that be in the football world decided I was just a little bit too outspoken for their liking. This case with Terry has sickened me so much that I am actually now prepared to reveal the former England manager who told me to my face that he was called in by the FA (he would not name the members and told me I would be sued if I revealed his identity as he would deny it) and told in no uncertain terms not to pick too many black players for the national side!!!

The only thing that has given me some hope is that even the likes of Garth Crooks (who I fell out with when he defended Peter Schmeichel for alleged racist abuse of Ian Wright) are demanding that the FA (a very appropriate acronym) take action against Terry.

Somehow I can’t see it happening. So for all those who sent Anton Ferdinand death threats, for all those players at Chelsea (especially the black ones who defended their captain, knowing as has been clearly stated that he used those words and lastly for the man himself, John Terry, you are a complete c***!!!!

Richie Moran

Richie played for Fujita of Tokyo and Birmingham City. Disillusioned by the racism he was subjected to and the reluctance and refusal of those in authority to take action, he left the game and toured the country as a vociferous and outspoken anti-racism campaigner. Kickboxing black belt, Richie has written a book, “It Really is a Small World”, about his experiences travelling the globe and contributed chapters to "The Ingerland Factor, Home Truths from Football” and “Soccer and Society”.