When it comes to crass protest, Kenny”s been there, done that… and got the T-shirt
My new T-shirt should be under the Christmas tree. I”ve asked Santa for one with the silhouette of a Premier League manager on it and the words “blind”, “dumb” and “irresponsible” printed underneath.
It”s my protest against the protests. My stand against the embarrassing displays of boorishness and the idiotic, infantile statements made by men who are certainly intelligent enough to know better. Men like Kenny Dalglish and Andre Villas-Boas, for instance.
Kicking out racism Dalglish and his players sported Suarez T-shirts
Shamefully, this duo”s reaction to racism scandals involving players at their respective clubs has served to demonstrate football stands shoulder-to-shoulder in any campaign to eradicate racism within the game – unless it might inconveniently involve one of their own.
Then it”s a witch-hunt, political posturing, a co-ordinated vendetta or the result of some other cockamamie conspiracy theory. And principles that should be enshrined for the greater good of the game are trampled underfoot in the mad rush of tribalism. What on earth were Liverpool Football Club thinking when they traipsed out in those pathetic screen-printed tops in support of Luis Suarez this week
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The Uruguayan had been banned by the Football Association for eight games for calling Patrice Evra a “little black man” during a squabble on the pitch.
Suarez himself admitted he made the remark, yet argued it would be considered inoffensive in his native South America. So what Ignorance isn”t a justifiable defence and saying “little black man” is not a purely descriptive phrase, as some at Liverpool have laughably attempted to argue.
It is a remark designed to belittle and demean and, in that context, it is racist language.
Moreover, Suarez hasn”t just stepped off a plane from Montevideo. He joined Ajax in the Dutch league in 2007 so has – or should have – a grasp of what is, and what is not, acceptable outside of South America.
The FA”s ban is harsh – but at least they sent out a message that these issues will be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly.
We saw Dalglish thinks otherwise. He led the puerile protests, even conducting television interviews in the cheap, rebellious Save Our Suarez clobber. Is this really what Liverpool FC is about – crusading for a footballer”s right to call a fellow professional a “little black man”
I think not. It was self-interested rabble rousing of the unthinking kind. Liverpool is known as a club with a tradition of conducting itself with dignity, a reputation enhanced by the manner in which it dealt with the traumas of Hillsborough, thanks in no small part to the way Dalglish himself led the way.
Backing: Dalglish has led the protests
But as statements go, this juvenile display was more in keeping with Rick from The Young Ones than an historic, global sporting institution.
Past custodians of Liverpool”s image, like former chief executive and boardroom manipulator Peter Robinson, would surely have counselled against what occurred at Anfield, carefully steering the club away from such asinine exhibitionism. The current American owners should have shown some leadership with a quiet word.
As for Dalglish”s teenage tweet that Suarez would “never walk alone”, that depends on the audience. If Suarez happens to find himself accompanied by a gaggle of small black men, I”d say he might find himself very much alone.
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Liverpool are better than this. I find it hard to believe there were not fans of the club who felt genuine discomfort on seeing the T-shirt parade, or has football become so blindly tribal now that all good sense has been lost
Best not ask Andre Villas-Boas for an objective view on racism in football. Chelsea have not been so crass as to print off “JT is Innocent” shirts, but the manager has often been gushingly tactless in his comments about John Terry.
The England (yes, still) and Chelsea captain discovered he will face prosecution over allegations that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road and is to appear at West London Magistrates” Court on February 1.
My own position on Terry has been consistently expressed on this page. To me, his explanation that he was only repeating a phrase denying he called Ferdinand “a f****** black ****” appears to have more holes in it than The Beatles found in Blackburn, Lancashire, but the court will establish his guilt or innocence.
In the meantime, the honourable and decent thing for Terry to do would be to relinquish the captaincy of his country pending the outcome of the court case. Unsurprisingly, he has declined this option.
However, Villas-Boas”s insistence that he “will be fully supportive of JT whatever the outcome” of the court case is wilfully provocative.
So was the manager”s boast that Terry”s “performances, commitment and concentration have increased since the incident” at Queens Park Rangers. Yep, there”s nothing like a racism storm to focus the mind.
I find it particularly galling to read nausea-inducing twaddle that Terry is “heroically” battling on as this scandal continues. He is continuing to do his job, no more, no less, and somewhat patchily too on the available evidence.
In many walks of life he would be suspended on full pay pending the outcome of the case, so he can consider himself fortunate to still be granted the opportunity to be beating his bare chest in front of a cheering crowd.
And we will be able to establish how “heroic” he was if he is subsequently cleared completely of all charges.
But these issues should not be divided on club lines. They need to be addressed sensibly – which leads me on to Ian Wright. Thankfully, the former Arsenal striker proves you don”t have to have a blind allegiance to a club or a cause to be misinformed.
On the Suarez decision, he declared: “As it is, this could be said to have opened the way for any black player who might have an axe to grind to accuse others in a similar way (to Evra) – and that sets a very dangerous precedent indeed.”
Ah, that”s better. Unbiased stupidity. It does exist.
Football is a wonderful sport and has the capacity to bring people together. But, contradictorily, when it comes to recrimination and poisonous hate the game has also been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
Amid all the noise and incessant fury, it pays to accept there are times when your club, players and fans might be in the wrong. And to remember a conscience should not come in club colours.
Shane is well Warne
Like-for-like: Shane Warne in front of the bronze statue
A bronze statue of Shane Warne has been unveiled at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. During the ceremony, the bowler said it was a good likeness. And I could see why. As Warne made his speech, it was hard to say what was more immobile: his face or the statue”s.
Cav saves SPOTY of bother
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards night was surprisingly downbeat and – dare I say – just a little bit dull.
It”s in danger of becoming the Coldplay of awards ceremonies – safe, formulaic and with its best years behind it, which may explain why the band”s music figured so prominently.
The likes of Dai Greene brought a rare dose of humour, some of the talking heads plonked in front of the camerawere laughable in another sense entirely and Rory McIlroy”s glasses provided a comedy highlight.
Worthy winner: Mark Cavendish
But the best laughs were to be had counting the number of cutaways to sportswomen in the audience (I counted 327) just to prove that they do exist despite the all-male final shortlist.
The unerring professionalism of the presenting team was never in doubt, but it generally felt like a wet Sunday night of a show, rather than a sparkling pre-Christmas Thursday extravaganza.
Maybe that might help explain the nearly three million viewers that went missing this year.
Whatever the overall mood, the right man won in the end. Mark Cavendish is a sports star who deserves all the recognition he is receiving right now. He is a cycling phenomenon.
The accusation that an online campaign helped him to the trophy is not entirely convincing. Many more people cycle for sport and leisure these days and Cavendish”s profile has grown accordingly.
The presence of three golfers – Darren Clarke, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy – on the shortlist also helped split the clubhouse vote, although they would still have come up short on Cavendish”s claim to nearly half the votes cast. So what”s the betting next year”s winner is a woman Odds on, I”d say.
2012 has a lot to live up to…
Happy Christmas to all – and thank you for the correspondence via letter, email and Twitter.
It has been a year of great gifts for a sports columnist, what with Ashley Cole”s air rifle, the endless debacle of English rugby union, Garry Cook”s hapless email activity at Manchester City and pretty much everything Sepp Blatter does.
I”d be lying if I didn”t admit I am wishing for more of the same over the next 12 months – and may all your wishes come true as well.
JOIN me at 6pm on Christmas Day for a Press Pass review of the year on talkSPORT.