Kick Racism Out of Football

Could you ever imagine someone chanting racist slogans at a gig? Not only would the bouncers get them out of the venue as quickly as possible it's quite likely a large number of audience members would turn on them before they'd had chance to take breath. Racism just isn't accepted in the music industry in any form and that's where it differs from the world of Football. You only have to sit in the crowd at an international football fixture to hear the seemingly light hearted remarks of "XXX - what the f**k has they ever done" and that's tame compared to some of the remarks players have to put up with regarding both their family's and their race.

Statistically the picture doesn't look much better when you compare the fact that although approximately 15% of professional players are black:
* At the start of this season there were no British-born Asian pros playing regular first team football in England and Wales
* There are no Black people on the ruling council of the Football Association
* Less than 1% of season tickets holders at Premier League clubs are black or Asian

And worse then all
* Less than 40 people a year are successfully prosecuted for racist chanting in the whole country and racist taunts are still heard, all too often.
* Non-league and grassroots teams with black and Asian players have been physically attacked and racially abused across the country.

Last month up to 15,000 people gathered in the Castlefield Arena, Manchester where a number of leading Urban musicians came together in a Kick It Event to highlight the problems that are facing ethnic footballers and fans of what we call the Great British game. Local UK Garage crew Virus Syndicate opened the event and Goldfinger suggested that the problem of racism is specific to certain clubs "Today is all about getting rid of the Nazi's and being United on one front. I'm a United Fan and we don't get any problems when we go to Old Trafford, but I know there is a lot of football teams where they've got a racism problem. The ironic thing is that all these people that are racist will be driving home in their cars listening to hip hop and R&B and jazz even"

Big Brovaz, who over the past 12 months have scored 3 Top Ten singles and a Top Ten Album, drove down from London especially to play the event and felt that racism is as much a problem throughout the entertainment industry and the media as much as it is through football. "We've suffered indirect racism through newspapers and publishers. They just don't want to report about Black groups in a positive way. We performed at the Silver Clef Charity concert a couple of weeks ago and everyone else on stage was mentioned apart from Big Brovaz." before going on to say how they had to compromise their style in order to be accepted "Back in the day people used to say we were too hardcore and too gangsta. We watered down our style intentionally, but never took anything away from it, to make it more commercially acceptable. We had to do it so the community could see a different side to being Urban"

Ex-Another Level member Wayne Williams chose the event to mark his comeback after 3 years setting up his own record label and working on his solo material. Backing up what Big Brovaz had been saying "Black music in this country is still a little bit misunderstood and there's still not enough people in the country who know how to work Black music. Doing an event like this where awareness is really really important in terms of Black music, racism and equality". Summing up his feelings on the racism prevalent in Football "I think the players do the right thing. They go out there not taking too much of that on board and at the end of the day they have to love them for their talent. Some of best footballers in the world are not white footballers. It's not really about black or white, your race or the colour of your skin and an event like this proves it".

More than anything what we need to do regard the problem facing the football community is simply have a bit of common sense. We live in a country which should celebrate it's own diversity and that extends to the world of football where a new foreign transfer can signal the difference between a win and a draw and creates added competition. Why should a football player have to suffer racist chants because of the colour of his skin? Why are less than 1% of season tickets holders at Premier League clubs are black or Asian? If this was anywhere else, for example in the work place or out in the pub with your mates, would the same attitude be tolerated or is it simply Football where the thin line between devotion to your team and country and racism is tread.

Alex McCann

Designer Magazine hopes to follow this article up in Sept with Premiership Interviews
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