Monthly Archives: June 2012

When Racism In Football Was Just Harmless Fun

Football that beautiful game – inclusive for the common people, for the multitude of nationalities regardless of where you lay your weary head. I remember as a young child growing up that most of my friendships were indeed initiated and had foundations built upon a football field – with teammates and those intent on kicking seven shades out of my growing bones.

My first team at junior school under 9s we had Simon Simpson his nickname was Simple for obvious reasons, this was later shortened to “Simps” thirty odd years later when I see him, and I still address him as “Simps”. We would also have a player called Ewan Doherty who had a head of Ginger hair – I guess you know what we called him, the same as me and my friends still call him to this very day – GINGE.

I will leave it up to you to decide whether we were particularly cruel as children, or as I suspect we were just 9 year olds growing up in the 1970s finding our feet and enjoying ourselves. The key point here is the distinction of what is agreed to be offensive and what is not – what is offensive regardless of one’s own opinion or perception, something that society as a whole has found unacceptable, that we all can agree.

Where the murky line becomes more shadowy is when the media choose to distort what we should accept and what they thrust upon the public as unacceptable, in their role as custodians for us all. A Jingoism against its very own readership, unfortunately many choose to be carried along with this type of hysteric headlining. This from some newspapers, which weeks earlier were happy to print their own versions of stories that would verge on homophobic or racist reporting, suddenly picking up on non-stories and reporting them as sensationalist headliners.

Liverpool footballer Dani Pacheco sending a message of good luck to his Liverpool teammate Glen Johnson, which according to the media reignites the racism row that Luis Suarez started, by using the word “Negrito” in his tweet to Johnson – Pacheco stated that he had always referred to Johnson in this manner and it was a greeting that Johnson felt no malice from. Who the hell do the white journalists that wrote this sensational story think they are to dictate to Glen Johnson a black man, how he should react?

That Tweet & those friends!!!

There are many footballers with a wide-ranging selection of not so complimentary nick-names, this is symptomatic of a football changing room, it is how many teams get that defined feeling of a TEAM – of course the line which you dare not step over can be tiny, fraught with a danger, but footballing friendships very rarely end with the choice of ones words, more with intent.

Alvaro Recoba is known as Chino – which translates to Chinese.

Romario was known as Baixinho – which translates to Shorty.

Faustino Asprilla was known as Gacelo Negra – which translates as Black Gazelle.

Not forgetting those of you with a religious disposition – Robbie Fowler was known as GOD

Why should I have a faux rage at the way anyone greets their own friends, what business is it of mine – unless of course it genuinely upsets me and my own social conscience. The Daily Star who were amongst a few who printed this story, would suggest that “Many Followers” were outraged with the use of such a word – surely they know where the un-follow button is, or maybe these sensitive sorts should be on the front line of the next Anti-Racism march against the BNP and its like, maybe actually doing something against real in your face racism would be too much for those outraged by the use of a very common word in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries.

Which leads me on not so nicely to those running the game of football – The same organisation that backs the anti-racism Kick It Out campaign, but then decides to hold one of the biggest footballing events on planet Earth in two countries that have both had their share of negativity around alleged racism – Ukraine and Poland?

We must first travel back in time to The FIFA World Cup of 2010 which the governing body decided to hold in South Africa – A country that had suffered racism and discrimination through many years of Apartheid, the system of racial segregation up to 1994. On that occasion Football was showing itself as a forward thinking and standard-bearer – Unfortunately with the decision made from EUEFA to hold a tournament in the countries with some of the worst incidents of racism and discrimination seen in Europe is clearly a mistake.

When we have Euefa or FIFA members of colour, coming out and saying they are not attending The European Championship Finals on the grounds that they fear for their own safety, then clearly something is wrong. This organisation that will hand down bans to those found guilty of using racist language – yet fail to protect supporters or players from such abuse from members of the paying public.

Tommie Smith & John Carlos – Black Power Salute – Mexico 1968

With all the publicity surrounding this event with the talk of racists and racism, I feel sure it has opened itself up and enabled those groups to have a forum to peddle their bile – When Platini says that if any Black players leave the field of play because of racist chants aimed at them, they will be disciplined, it just beggars belief.

My own fear is that a hero is in waiting, similarly to Tommie Smith & John Carlos who both made Black Power fists at the 1968 Olympics – It would change the history of sport over this century, whilst Smith would go down in history in his stance – changing his life for ever.

If indeed this is to happen, I for one would support it wholeheartedly – Mario Balotelli ripping off his shirt as he leaves the field of play, and in a two-fingered salute to his protagonists to reveal a t-shirt with a picture of Platini on it with the words………… “C’est Le Vie”.

Such is life.

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Brendan Rodgers – The Waiting Game

Oh God Doctor I am at that place once again, you know the one, where my mind begins to beguile me, hallucination with misconception –  Convinced of a 19th League Title on the horizon, as close that I can touch it, I can see my reflection mirror like from its shiny silver – oh how I have missed you. My eyes paint a picture of Steven Gerrard striding up the stairs of the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon to collect our 6th European Cup in 2014.

From what I am reading and hearing from Liverpool supporters on many forums, the above is as much a reality in many a mind as it is farfetched in as many more.

We have indeed found ourselves in this position before, where the incoming manager is left drowning in a flood of over the top expectations, how personnel that the previous season could not perform to the standard required, will suddenly under Rodgers become World beaters – Brendan Rodgers was quite right to dissect the Liverpool fan base, alongside all footballing fans, from all clubs, into three categories  – Those that can support, those that cannot support and finally those who refuse to support, regardless of any results.

What the football fan fails to comprehend and what he or she is lacking – is patience. Liverpool is a prime example, a club built on foundations of togetherness where success was shared amongst the masses and for that matter failure.

Liverpool fans have a great understanding of football, what it takes to impress, a renowned group of footballing connoisseurs – with it a great expectation and with bated breath they await their very own Phoenix rising from the flames.

Unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers, before a ball has been kicked in anger, his own Liverpool managerial experience yet to commence on the field – we read such quotes as “He reminds me of Shankly” “He has a connection with the supporters already” “The best Manager since the last one” and it goes on, but hopefully you get the idea, where Swansea has been linked in such a skew whiff way, like a Times crossword the answer becomes Brazil or Holland, wow TOTAL FOOTBALL  .

I fear the instant age that we now find ourselves in, may force upon Rodgers an unnecessary pressure on his fledgling shoulders. What is the probability that after 3 training sessions with his new squad – Stewart Downing suddenly becomes a World beater or perhaps Jay Spearing begins to realize that he is not Zidane.

Liverpool down the years, even through less successful times has always had that ethos of passing and moving – a footballing team, the suggestion now is that Brendan Rodgers will somehow bring this to the club – for me it was there on many occasions under Dalglish last season and through his tenure – was the way we played really an issue?

The King and The Prince

Having said all of the above I think of all the young managers who were available to the owners, the selection of Brendan Rodgers was the correct decision – With that ballsy resolution to what at times was a pantomime, not always the fault of the owners, more a media frenzy coupled with a dotty old chairman from Lancashire who became intent on reminding the country through the medium of Sky Sports, that he was indeed still alive and well, living in an old folks home in Wigan – Dave Whelan.

What will be of interest in concern of Liverpool’s new manager, will be how and if he is prepared to blood young talent – Where it became increasingly difficult for the last regime – as it found itself under such pressures, that would not allow such folly – It was as if Dalglish had listened to Hansen too much on the golf course – “You Win Nothing With Kids”. Essential to the growth of the club there can be no intermission of the conveyor belt, we have to constantly strive to produce our own – how this is done will prove problematic as it did for Benitez and also Dalglish.

One would hope that Rodgers has already a plan of action in place, to enhance the opportunity to blood our crop of great young players, with a suggestion that many will be farmed out to clubs with a similar style to that required by Liverpool – Already Swansea, Norwich and Reading have been mention. This is a direct opposite approach to that of Dalglish, who preferred to keep young players at the club.

We all walk together!!!!

If we take a moment to look back to when Rafa Benitez became the club’s manager in 2004, the comparison with the squad that Brendan Rodgers now has at his disposal  is favorable, if additions were to be purchased of strong mind and quality, then realistically a strong challenge and assault on the top 4 is a very achievable target – We must however accept that Rodgers must be allowed the opportunity to instill his footballing philosophy, giving the time and patience for it to flourish successfully.

Those that remember Benitez with his bloody zonal marking, were we ever truly happy to accept that – but looking back now for three seasons Liverpool’s defensive record would indeed be impressive. Benitez would buy time for all his experiments by being a perpetual qualifier of the Champions League – somewhere Dalglish would fail.

So Doctor do I book my hotel room for Lisbon 2014 whilst there are rooms still available – Or am I prescribed something awfully strong to help with such delusions…..I think not, for never forget we are a special, very special club and William Shankly taught us to always dream, those dreams would lead me to Rome, Wembley, Paris and Istanbul  – Hotel booked.

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