Just when I thought football couldn’t get any more brainless and crass, the English FA come up with an utterly patronising concept to educate foreign players and managers on Britishness by making them attend lessons on British culture.
The last 12 months have been amongst the worst and most embarrassing for English football.
First we had Liverpool forward, Luis Suarez, calling Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra, a ‘negrito’ and then if that wasn’t enough to leave you totally disenchanted John Terry was found to have used racist language when referring to black England defender, Anton Ferdinand during a game between Chelsea and QPR.
It took the FA to deliver its verdict on Terry and in between times he was able to represent his country at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
The haste with which the FA acted was non-existent and it sent out the wrong the message to black players all over England. However, in the FA’s great wisdom and desire to tackle to all things racist they have come with the Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan.
The only reason the FA conjured up the action plan was because British Prime Minister, David Cameron, stepped in after the Terry/Ferdinand and Suarez/Evra affairs and told FA Chairman, David Bernstein, to get his house in order. The result being the awfully named Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan.
The Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan is a 92 point document that sets out how the FA plan to tackle such issues as racism.
One of the points, which I have already alluded to will see newly signed foreign players and coaches forced to take lessons in British culture. Another one of the points suggests that by 2015/16, one in ten referees and coaches will have to be of ethnic origin as ‘it is reflective of national demographics’.
British culture lessons? Positive discrimination? This is just plain nonsense.
I can’t imagine anything more disparaging for a foreign footballer than having to sit through lessons in British culture.
What would be on the curriculum? Lessons in how to cook the perfect Yorkshire pud? A beginner’s guide to Morris dancing? How to down a pint of bitter in three seconds? Where would it end?
If anyone thinks that such suggestions will be any way constructive then they’d need to think again.
The reason that football is failing when it comes to issues such as racism, violence and homophobia is nothing to do with foreign players. That’s a complete red herring. The reason football is failing is because of poor leadership and a lack of a united front.
The punishments dished out to players and fans found guilty of using racist language are so far apart that Han Solo would have no trouble flying the Millennium Falcon through it.
If a footballer is found to have used to racist language he’s hit with a £200,000 fine and banned for four games. I know £200,000 is a lot to you and me but to a multi-millionaire it’s a drop in the ocean.
If a football fan is found to have used racist language on Twitter or at a game they more often than not incur the full wrath of the law and are often banned from football grounds all over the country.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the punishment handed out to racist football fans is disproportionate - quite the opposite in fact.
Football is doomed to fail unless clubs and the FA start punishing players the same way they punish fans. If a player is found to have used racist or homophobic language he should have his contract terminated.
I am all for maintaining football’s edge when it comes to big games like Manchester United v Manchester City or Rangers v Celtic but I’m sorry, racism and homophobia do not go towards making a football match entertaining.
I reckon I could have saved the FA a lot of time and money by just reiterating the following sentence to every footballer and fan - ‘racism and homophobia is illegal, if you’re found to have engaged in such behaviour you will feel the full force of the law’. It’s that simple but for some reason the FA insist on confusing the situation further with their ridiculous action plan.
The FA’s suggestion that one in ten referees should be of ethnic origin as ‘it is reflective of national demographics’ is perhaps more insulting and patronising than lessons in British culture.
Skin colour or ethnicity should have nothing to do with becoming a referee - they are completely incidental.
The ability to referee a game of football fairly is much more important than his or her ethnic origin. It’s very simple. Football is all about ability and hard graft. If a referee is good enough then that’s where it should begin and end.
Yes the FA should encourage more men and women from ethnic backgrounds towards officiating but it becomes a whole different ball game once they set out race quotas.
The FA, like so many other governing bodies is clueless to what is really happening and because of their weak leadership they are part of the problem. Perhaps they should take some of their own medicine and start taking lessons in how to avoid becoming out of touch, irrelevant and patronising!