ENGLAND have no right calling for Montenegro to be hammered for their racist abusing of black players while they refuse to take the issue seriously themselves.
We’ve been here before – England managers, players and staff taking their stand when Eastern European fans throw out monkey taunts to black players on the pitch.
Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi are to be applauded for ignoring the shameful taunts to produce on the pitch and speak so eloquently off it.
And Gareth Southgate did his bit in his usual, thoughtful, style.
But the problem is, for some at the FA, that will be enough. They will sit there in their offices, hiding behind the public statements actually believing they are strong on racism. They’re not.
What The FA, and the English game actually do, is pay lip service to the issue while perpetuating the myth that this is a problem for those backwards buggers in far-flung countries.
That belief has become so ingrained in our thinking that we believe it’s true. It’s why we had Ian Wright on television straight after the game saying a fine wasn’t enough, Uefa have to hit nations with stadium closures and maybe more.
Try and find The FA hitting Spurs, Chelsea, Millwall or West Ham with any punishment for what has happened in full view of the watching world. You won’t find any, because no action has been taken.
Sterling said the same – but what he also did was expose his own FA for what they really are on racism. Weak.
The Manchester City star called on those in charge to do something that actually hurts, rather than just fines. And crucially referenced his home nation too.
As Sterling found to his cost, the ugly side to football has reared its head at home several times this season but what have the FA actually done about it? Were they demanding stadium closures, or points deductions? Were they heck.
Instead, they have asked clubs where offences took place for their observations, issued the usual “zero-tolerance” statement and, well, that’s it.
A banana skin was thrown onto the pitch by a Tottenham fan at Arsenal, four Chelsea fans openly abused Sterling at Stamford Bridge.
Then we were graced with the footage of Millwall fans and their “p***” chant at Everton supporters before a West Ham bigot screamed discriminatory abuse at Mo Salah at the London Stadium.
If it happens against us, The FA go in hard. They let it be known that paltry Uefa fines mean nothing and that they want tougher action to stamp it out.
But when it happens on their watch, they do exactly the opposite. Hiding behind the regulations which state that if a club has taken all realistic and necessary precautions but some idiots act off their own back, then well, that’s the way it goes. Nothing to see here.
Do a search yourself if you don’t believe me. Try and find The FA hitting Spurs, Chelsea, Millwall or West Ham with any punishment for what has happened in full view of the watching world. You won’t find any, because no action has been taken.
There is no strict liability rule in English football. When issues occur, it’s all the fault of the fan, not the clubs and most certainly not the FA – or the individual leagues.
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The Premier League and EFL love a joint statement, or a campaign. “We’re anti-discrimination because we hold a photo-shoot”, that kind of thing.
Ask them to agree to changing the FA regulations so that when incidents occur, the clubs will have to close part of their grounds, or lose points? You’ll find a different answer, one that will fudge around the issue and usually come up with the answer that they can’t be expected to take responsibility for individual’s behaviour.
And that’s it in a nut-shell. No-one at the top of English football wants to take any real responsibility. It’s always someone else’s problem. And until that changes, we remain in the dark ages.