Football Reading striker Jason Roberts

Published on November 2nd, 2012 | by Richard Wilder


Players lose faith in FA

Reading's Jason Roberts

When Bolton Wanderers striker Marvin Sordell used Twitter to express his thoughts on his side’s recent visit to the New Den, claiming racial abuse, he unwittingly expressed his faith, or lack of in this case, in the Country’s governing body the FA.

Sordell instead chose the 21st century approach, directly telling his following exactly what he claimed to be the subject off. In one tweet from Sordell he added:  ‘Funniest thing is, if had come on and scored and gave them some back, I would be the one who got fined.’

No Trust in FA

This comment alone expresses Sordell’s frustration, but not trusting the FA to deal with this situation is still a somewhat strange decision, especially after the recent high profile cases involving John Terry and Luis Suarez in which the FA showed their stance on racism within the game by handing out match suspensions and fines to both players.Fortunately for Sordell the fact that he used the social networking site to vent his anger, did help bring the situation to the public spotlight and has meant that the FA have took it upon themselves to investigate the matter along with both clubs with Millwall pledging to call in the police despite no official complaint being made.

 Millwall’s Reaction

But Millwall’s Fan on the Board representative Peter Garston who has worked continuously over the past five years to improve the clubs reputation and its relationship with the fans, believes the comments made by Sordell were ill timed and unjust.“It seems pretty unfair that such an issue can be raised via a social networking site with no evidence to corroborate, especially as there were plenty of officials available at the time to raise the alleged complaint.” Garston also praised his clubs effort towards combatting racism something which the club is extremely proud of. “Millwall have done and do on a regular basis more to stamp out such unacceptable behaviour than most other clubs.”

 Double standards from the FA?

The FA have also called for severe punishments to be handed out, in the wake of England’s U21 1-0 victory in Serbia last week further enhancing their stance against racism, following embarrassing scenes involving racial taunts aimed at England’s black players and left back Danny Rose in particular.  Speaking to Sky sports news the FA’s general secretary Alex Horne urged UEFA to take action against anyone involved in the trouble.  “We call on UEFA to take the strongest possible action against the Serbian FA, their supporters and anyone found guilty of being involved in the numerous instances of violence and abuse.”

Despite this there are still a number of current professionals within the game who feel the FA and higher Governing Bodies are still not punishing those responsible accordingly. The likes of Jason Roberts and Jason Brown have both recently stated their passionate opinion on Sky sports news about the actions the FA has taken in recent race related incidents with Roberts claiming that “A four-game ban is nowhere near what people would expect for something like this” in regards to the FA’s ban handed to Terry.

 Lynch reacts to Brown t-shirt snub

Wales and Aberdeen goalkeeper Brown also issued an angry outburst claiming the PFA and the Government is not doing enough to tackle the issue. He claimed that the Lets kick racism out of football campaign “Is just one big smoke screen” and is refusing to wear the campaign’s t-shirt in the warm up of any of his future matches. “I refuse to wear any of their t-shirts or do any adverts for it, because they don’t push it hard enough.”

But speaking to Arts London News, Danny Lynch, Head of Communications at the Kick it out campaign believes the players are entitled to vent their frustrations, even if that means the players continue to snub the t-shirts. “The reaction is that we respect the right of those players to protest. Those players have been instrumental in making football a safe space in their own way. They have worked with kick It out, they work with clubs and they work the Professional football association to try and further the anti discrimination agenda. I don’t see it as a snub of Kick it out, I see it as an expression of their displeasure and they are absolutely within their right to have that.I think we were caught in the crossfire a little bit and some of those player felt like the only way they can make a stand was by boycotting the t-shirts. Hopefully it’s not a snub of our work because I would like to think that they appreciate the work we do across the game, in communities and grass roots football all the way to the elite level, and I hope there is an acknowledgement of that.”

 Six Point Plan

Despite huge efforts over many years from these anti racism campaigns, the fact is they simply do not hold enough power to make a difference, with this being left down to the FA and higher governing bodies. Following a surge in race related incidents in football over the last year, the FA’s plan to eradicate the problem has come with their new six point plan being introduced. This involves:

    1. KIO Logo Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse.
    2. Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness programme for culprits and clubs involved.
    3. An English form of the “Rooney rule” – introduced by the NFL in America in 2003 – to make sure qualified black coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.
    4. The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.
    5. Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts (and therefore potentially a sackable offence).
    6. Not to lose sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.


The introduction of this six point plan proves the FA are still committed to kicking racism out of the game and should show the players and fans, that the FA can be trusted in dealing with the problem and coming up with solutions to solve these issues that are sadly resurfacing all too often after years of successful campaigning.



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