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  • Football, racism and anti-racism

    by guest
    17th April, 2009 at 2:07 pm    

    This is an extract from Sunder Katwala’s article on the Hillsborough disaster.

    Sport did a lot to shape my emerging politics. Norman Tebbit’s cricket test was confusing, because I supported England (though not against Viv Richards’ West Indies) though my Dad didn’t, and now I felt I didn’t particularly want to either. I discovered the emerging fanzine movement, subscribed to When Saturday Comes, and used to buy and browse others at Sportspages in Charing Cross in those pre-internet days. My first act of civic activism was in 1988: against ID cards, the project of the late and unlamented Tory MP and Luton Town chairman David Evans. (I felt even more strongly about plastic pitches, on which we always lost). I got a Football Supporters Association petition against and hawked for signatures at Roots Hall.

    Football did a lot to introduce me to racism and to anti-racism too. John Barnes scored the greatest ever England goal against Brazil in the Maracana. England won 2-0 but the National Front contingent chanted one-nil. Barnes’ goal didn’t count. All hell broke out as John Barnes signed for Liverpool, captured in Dave Hill’s brilliant book Out of His Skin, with the famous picture of Barnes’ back-heeling a banana off the pitch at Goodison Park. Everton had a racism problem. At one Everton-Arsenal game where the Gunners had four black players, the racism was the worst you could ever hear. (At another, Arsenal were given a standing ovation at the end for playing Everton off the park on the way to the title).

    Outside Selhurst Park in my Everton tracksuit, the voice behind me “Even the Pakis are supporting Everton now”. And Everton had no black players. At a Southend game, racist abuse of a Wolves player was challenged behind the goal: “Oy, mate, what’s Andy Ansah going to think about that?”. Skinheads and sarky sixth-formers chanted “Ansah’s black, Angell’s white, we are f-ing dynamite”. Andy Cole was the King of Newcastle. As Jean Marie Le Pen was to find out in 1998, the far right has to choose between the new reality of national and local pride as it now was, or the all-white fantasies which meant they had no club or nation of their own.

    (And there I was, on my own, on the terraces at the wrong end at West Ham at an FA Cup quarter final in 1991 (ticket from a tout, expensive at £25) as the chant went up “I’d rather be a Paki than a Scouse”. So was I safe? I wasn’t sure this was progress. I hadn’t entirely lost my accent so I thought I had better keep my mouth shut. My heart jumped as we scored, but I tried to keep my head down as we lost a thriller).

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    Filed in: British Identity,EDL,Race politics,The BNP

    13 Comments below   |  

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    1. Kevin Blowe

      @piara RT #pickledpolitics New blog post: Football, racism and anti-racism

    2. pickles

      New blog post: Football, racism and anti-racism

    3. Football, racism and anti-racism

      [...] More here:  Football, racism and anti-racism [...]

    4. Football, racism and anti-racism | Free Political Forum

      [...] Original post by guest [...]

    1. Roger — on 17th April, 2009 at 5:28 pm  

      I failed Tebbit’s cricket test, and i’m a white English-born Englishman. Tebbit failed cricket’s cricket test, which is- or was- that you admire and respect good players and good play without regard for the side you favour or they play for. That’s the theory, but- as a friend said waiting for play to start in a test against the West Indies at Lord’s: “I’d like Boycott to get a hundred but I’d much rather Richards got a hundred while I’m watching.”

    2. douglas clark — on 18th April, 2009 at 5:57 am  

      It’s odd that John Barnes goal is mentioned here. I’ve been away from this site for a day or two, and funnily enough, that goal came up during my birthday party, yesterday. (Cheers Leon!). Probably the best goal ever scored by an Englishman. Moving rapidly on, and (deliberately) forgetting the jammy Gascoigne effort against Scotland.

    3. runescape gold — on 18th April, 2009 at 6:05 am  

      Great site and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor

    4. damon — on 18th April, 2009 at 11:35 am  

      For some reason, this computor I’m on is blocking the link to Sunder Katwala’s article as ‘Hate Speech’.

      Here’s a guy I rate when it comes to football matters (Duleep Allirajah) and his (perhaps controversial) views on the subject of racism in football.

      ”Monkey chants and racial taunts used to be common on the terraces in the Seventies and Eighties, but are thankfully very rare these days. However, while black players are no longer pelted with bananas, football has long provided a template for the kind of overblown racialisation of relatively trivial incidents that we’ve seen with the CBB race furore.

      The trend was started in 1996 when Aussie goalkeeper Mark Bosnich was fined £1,000 for making a comedy Hitler salute towards Spurs fans. Another well-known example of imaginary racism was Skinner and Baddiel’s celebration of the chant, ‘He’s got a pineapple on his head’, which was directed at Nottingham Forest striker Jason Lee’s dreadlocks. The player blamed his subsequent loss of confidence and downward career trajectory on the lampooning he suffered as a result of the Fantasy Football League TV programme. Two football academics, Jon Garland and Mike Rowe, accused Skinner and Baddiel of racism by encouraging a chant that expressed an ignorance ‘of the cultural significance of dreadlocks to many black people’.”

      And here he is again, this time defending the right to be really offensive at football, to the point of saying that the Sol Campbell song was not (as some claimed) racist.

    5. Golam Murtaza — on 18th April, 2009 at 8:18 pm  

      Only ever been to ONE professional English football club match in my life. Nil-nil draw, cold, wet, somewhat mystifying experience. But enjoyable in a weirdly masochistic way.

    6. billericaydicky — on 19th April, 2009 at 5:11 am  

      I’ve read this article four or five times now and I’m still trying to figure out what the point is. To paraphrase Michael Caine “talk about stating the bleeding obvious”.

      Mind you I always wonder what Sunder Katwala is on about.

    7. lurker — on 19th April, 2009 at 9:06 pm  

      There is a difference between racism out of hate, and racism for the purpose of putting off or upsetting the opposition. In the years I’ve spent on the terraces at arsenal, the former has never manifested, and thank f*ck for that. The latter, however, will always be around. And rightly so.

      To start banning the fans for taunting the opposition is to take away an essential part of what being a football fan is all about, and will only further add to the demise of the great game.

    8. Golam Murtaza — on 20th April, 2009 at 3:19 pm  

      Not sure how you’d differentiate between those fans yelling racist abuse because they genuinely hate non-white people and those doing it because they just want to wind up the rival fans.

    9. damon — on 20th April, 2009 at 3:43 pm  

      One of the saddest things I have heard about in recent years is the two ‘Asian’ lads who were at a Burnley home game a year or two ago - when they were tapped on the shoulder half way through the game - and talked to by the people in the seats behind them: ”Make this your last game here” they were told.

      I think there should have been some club inquirey, and the disgusting people who said that should have faced some sanction.
      You can’t say that … or intimidate some ‘asian’ lads with impunity is my opinion.

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