British lessons for foreign players Let's start with Monty Python
00:00 GMT, 15 December 2012
The Football Association has produced a 92-point plan to tackle racism within football. Nice and concise, that. You’d think they might have rounded it up to 100 just for symmetry. But, on the plus side, at least if they ever throw the book at somebody it might actually hurt.
Let me spin through a couple of the key announcements that you might have missed. First, there is a proposal that foreign players and managers arriving in England will be required to attend lessons in 'British culture'.
Also, by 2015-16, one in 10 referees and coaches will have to be of ethnic origin as 'it is reflective of national demographics', starting at the grassroots level.
Association of Silly Talks: the FA's initiative is nothing but a patronising display of political box-ticking
More from Des Kelly…
Des Kelly: Platini's flight of fancy will give fans travel sickness while greedy UEFA swell their coffers at YOUR expense
Des Kelly: Bridge boo boys should be careful what they wish for… or Roman might end up giving them their old Chelsea back
Des Kelly: I'm sorry, but Chelsea are an utter disgrace
Des Kelly: Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored
Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode
Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner
Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto
Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
Shall we put aside the other 90 recommendations for now, as these two absolute belters should provide enough material for the time being.
I ask you, has there ever been a more patronising display of political box-ticking in sport than these two misplaced edicts Is the FA seriously going to lecture foreign footballers on culture and set out actual race quotas
This has all come about because FA chairman David Bernstein was dragged into No 10 Downing Street to have his knuckles rapped by a Prime Minister that spotted football was on the news a bit more lately.
Sensing an opportunity, David Cameron declared ‘something must be done’ and, lo and behold, the result is English Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan.
It’s a grand title. Politicians just love documents that include words like ‘action’ and ‘plan’ in the same sentence. They look ever so assertive up on the bookshelf. But it’s largely unenforceable guff.
Let’s start with those lessons on British culture for foreigners. Who would be suited for the formidable task of teaching imported sportsmen on 200,000 a week about Britain
The job is likely to fall to some hapless FA apparatchik armed with a Powerpoint presentation that shows a pint of bitter, a Monty Python sketch and a list of the occasions when using the N word is considered unacceptable (Handy tip for foreigners: it’s pretty much all occasions).
Of course, this initiative would have a great deal more impact if it was fronted by a couple of experienced ex-England internationals. Two former captains of the national side, for instance. I wonder if Rio Ferdinand and John Terry might help
I’d also like to know which foreigners qualify for these condescending seminars Will thoroughly Anglicised American, Australian and Dutch players have to sit through these lectures or are they not foreign enough
Fighting talk: Football has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons
Is it only for black players and South Americans and is that racist
Besides, surely this is British culture A British-German Royal family, British-Polish plumbers, British Indian restaurants, British-South African cricketers and a British-Pakistani taxi driver all sitting in a British-Irish pub.
The principles underpinning all this are obviously commendable. Of course racism is wrong and should be punished. Role models from all corners of society should be encouraged to join the game, too. But I am utterly sick to the back teeth of people using football as an exercise in social engineering.
There are so many contradictions on matters of race alone. Sport has to be a meritocracy, a system based on individual ability and achievement. That is its essence. Once you impose false quotas it becomes a clumsy, superficial charade.
/12/14/article-0-0143621D00000578-760_468x341.jpg” width=”468″ height=”341″ alt=”Acceptable face of sport The cycling team was an all-white cast” class=”blkBorder” />
Acceptable face of sport The cycling team was an all-white cast
The FA stamp their feet and complain with justification that UEFA’s pathetic attempts to tackles football’s ills are insulting, exemplified by the piffling 65,000 fine imposed on Serbia for a night of racism and violence. But this country has to put its own house in order.
When a so-called fan was caught on video at Chelsea making an alleged (I have to say that) monkey gesture at Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the footage and somehow decided there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with charges of a racially aggravated public-order offence.
Having seen the images, I am at a complete loss over what more evidence they might have required. Which leads me on to the general argument that football is supposedly doomed.
Depending on your news outlet of choice this week, the game is either ‘ungovernable’, ‘teetering on the brink’ of something, or not like it used to be in the good old days when people drank Bovril and smoked Woodbines.
On the plus side, rates of lung cancer and emphysema are down due to the absence of the filter-free gaspers, there’s more on offer at grounds than scalding Bovril, and fewer deaths in the ground, too. I thought I might mention that, since it’s quite important.
Follow Des on Twitter…
More from Des here: @DesKellyDM
Not all bad then, I think we can agree. It can be a hostile and unpleasant environment on occasion, but head into the city centre at chucking out time this weekend and it won’t be much different. So it’s not all football’s fault, despite what the doom-mongers say and we should remember that it can be a joy, too.
A small section of people throw coins because they are irresponsible scum and they think they will get away with it. If CCTV evidence is as unreliable as the CPS have demonstrated, the authorities must intervene.
If coins and missiles are thrown, sections of the ground should be closed. If a thug hurls a seat on the pitch, leave that stand empty for the next fixture and those nearby will shop the perpetrators in their midst soon enough.
Erecting nets behind the goals and around corner flags at the grounds where missiles are thrown is a perfectly reasonable response, too.
There is a spurious counter- argument that this will inevitably lead to the return of fences, but that is not the case.
Nets are used at grounds on the continent and if they save an eye, then they are worth it. And if no coins are thrown, they can be taken down again.
The FA cannot complain about the safety of players on foreign fields and dismiss the perils here at home.
If they do, I only hope someone has the netting handy for when people start throwing stones at England’s glasshouse.
First prize for overblown nonsense goes to Beeb
At least by the end of tomorrow night we should be able to bid farewell to one deeply irritating phenomenon for a month or two.
It relates to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and always occurs in the moment a champion conquers their particular sport.
Even as they are punching the air with delight in their moment of glory, you can guarantee some clown in the room will declare: ‘They’re bound to win Sports Personality now!’; the logic being a world title, gold medal or astonishing personal achievement is merely a step towards ‘the real prize’ — which is a BBC trophy once won by Greg Rusedski, bless him.
When Bradley Wiggins crossed the line in Paris as Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, do you imagine he thought: ‘That’s sure to get me on stage with Sue Barker’
Motivation SPOTY is hardly at the front of sports men and women's minds
Does anyone believe that while the European Ryder Cup team were dancing in delight after their comeback, they were also wondering if they might topple the Olympic Gamesmakers in a BBC poll Of course not.
It’s an overblown, self-congratulatory evening; one that has a little more happy footage than usual this year, which will make a pleasant change, thanks to the glorious Olympics and some notable triumphs for Britain elsewhere.
For all the enthusiastic hype, Wiggins is a cert. This is tough on Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Rory McIlroy and the countless others who tasted success in Britain’s greatest sporting year.
But Wiggins is a British pioneer in his sport — a genuine first in his sport for his country — and he has deserved all the honours and trinkets that will come his way. Let’s not pretend they are the real prizes, though.
Club World Cup Win or lose, no one cares
Chelsea could be crowned Club World Cup champions in Japan. What a prize. This famous tournament dates back all the way to 2000. It has been a constant in the calendar ever since they stopped arguing about the format in 2005, renamed it in 2006 and rejigged the schedule in 2007 and once again in 2008. What history. What tradition.
Apologies, there’s some punctuation missing there. I meant: What history What tradition The competition is a colossal waste of airline fuel and nothing more than another FIFA junket. Win or lose, nobody really cares.
Who cares Chelsea are battling to win the Club World Cup in Japan