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New Racism Laws, Are They Enough?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 3 years ago
Rather unfortunately, the last 18 months of world football have been tainted by one issue - racism. The FA came under scrutiny for its poor management of a string of racially-based incidents, including the Luis Suarez and John Terry scandals as well as the Kick it out boycott from the Premier League's senior black professionals, but it has also been a growing issue on the continent, with an England Under21s match finishing up in stadium-wide abuse from Croatian supporters, in addition to a Tottenham fan being stabbed by Italian Ultras the night before a Europa League clash.

Often accused of lacking any bite to their bark, UEFA have finally stepped in to create tougher sanctions for racial abuse, in contrast to their previously ineffective tactic of administering small fines around the £50,000 mark. Some of the measures include a no-exceptions ten game ban for any player or official found guilty of racial abuse or discrimination, as well as the partial closure or full closure of stadiums should supporters be charged with the same crime.

Yet the English FA have decided against taking up the European governing body's proposals, instead opting to introduce a five game ban for players or officials. But is the length of suspension enough considering the gravity of the issue at hand? Furthermore, should the FA be doing more, and overall showing a greater consistency, in order to tackle racism?

The hypocrisy is clear to see from the fact alone that committing a racial slur domestically will have literally half the penalty in comparison to doing it on the continental stage. Despite this, FA chief David Bernstein has already claimed that "We [the FA] are very proud to have taken a world lead in this matter".

Yet, the new proposals do not even go as far as overtaking the punishments already handed out by the FA in the past. Luis Suarez' racial swipe at Patrice Evra back in October 2011, despite being later labelled as an episode of cultural naivety, earned the Liverpool striker an eight game ban, whilst at the start of the current season, John Terry was handed a four game ban for his incident involving Anton Ferdinand.

As if the two punishments handed out to Terry and Suarez alone didn't create inconsistency, the FA have now decided to find the middle ground with their new laws in implementing five game bans. Bernstein has argued that the length of suspension will be exceeded when required to do so for individual cases, but using phrases such as "entry level" and "least serious" offenses, as quoted on Sky Sports News, only serves to create more confusion over the issue.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who believes that there should not be a staggered approach to tackling racism, with a scale to effectively determine how racist you have been, as every act of bigotry or discrimination no matter how big or small should be tackled with the same level of sincerity and seriousness, and the punishments should have the same weight of authority behind them.

Similarly, is a five game ban really an appropriate length of time?  It is some way short of penalties imposed by the FA for other offences in recent years. In 1998, Paolo Di Canio recieved an 11 game suspension for pushing over a referee, and in 2005 David Prutton was penalised for the same offence, landing him a ten game ban, whilst Rio Ferdinand and Mark Bosnich were both banned for the best part of a year for failing drugs tests. Even the most recent sizeable ban handed out by English football's governing body, the 10 match suspension imposed upon Luis Suarez for biting Branislav Ivanovic, is double what a player could receive from next season onwards for using racist language on the field of play.

Should there be another incident involving a high-profile player, their five match absence will undoubtedly be felt by the club, and could be the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful campaign, in addition to the media scrutiny surrounding the player and the club will in itself be a form of punishment. But considering in all other walks of life one's job would come under threat if they were accused of racial discrimination, it seems a rather lapse attitude towards a growing issue in a profession where ability will always secure employment no matter the what scrutiny or controversy surrounds any particular individual.

It is rather concerning about the effectiveness of the FA that not only has it taken them two serious incidents involving key figures in the Premier League, in addition to a rather embarrassing boycott by the English top flight's black players of an anti-racism campaign, to even make a new resolution regarding what has quite clearly been an underlying problem for a number of years, but also that their proposals are a rather limp alternative in comparison to what UEFA are trying to implement.

It sends out a message that as a country, a sport and as stakeholders in the English game, we take the issue of racism far less seriously than our European counter-parts, despite the collection of incidents over the past two years and common knowledge that followers of the England national team can be the amongst most abusive and xenophobic towards foreign supporters.

Piara Powar, director of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), has dubbed the introduction of five game bans as a 'missed opportunity' on the part of the FA, and I wholeheartedly agree with him. It is not the first time Bernstein and company have been inconsistent and lukewarm on the issue, and it will undoubtedly be the last.
A tougher stance needs to be taken by the FA on racism, or else the issue will always be somewhat trivialised by its apparent lack of priority, despite it being one of the most immoral, divisive and destructive problems that confronts the safety and stability of the English game. The only way to truly tackle racism in professional football is to set a clear and stern example that it is unacceptable, and unfortunately the FA have once again let us down in failing to do so.

Written by Christy Malyan

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Della (Chelsea) 3 years ago
I'm glad FA is doing some thing about racism, but they have being to soft handed on this matter still. 10 matches ban should be minimum for players, and clubs should be fined more
Tony (footytube staff) 3 years ago
You can't blame the club for a loose cannon unless the club themselves have racially abused someone
VANCE6 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
No they are not I want the racialists banned
[account-removed] 3 years ago
The problem is society not football players/ fans

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