Monday, 23 February 2015

Why Racists are not football fans

Pele with Bobby Moore in 1970
Last week we saw a rather sad little incident in Paris, where a bunch of morons, who clamed to support Chelsea FC, took great pride in acting like a bunch of complete idiots, bullying a Frenchman in his own city, for simply being black and then chanting about how wonderful they thought being racist morons was. The general gist of the press coverage was "Racist thugs shame football".

I am sorry, I don't buy into this. Why? Because such morons have no interest in football, no love of the game and no understanding of what good football is. I love football. I spent this morning driving to a park in Kenton to watch a bunch of 14 year olds kick a ball around. My sons team has a black coach, black, white and Asian players and a supportive group of parents representing the four corners of the earth, all of who end up sharing the joy of the game every Sunday. Yesterday, a group of boys, parents and coaches associated with the club went to watch Barnet play Grimsby. Why? Because we love football.

I first became aware of football when I was five or six years old. At the time, all British league players were white and England held the World Cup. I was three when England won the world cup, so I have no memories of it. I do remember eagerly anticipating the 1970 World Cup. England were world Champion and had Gordon Banks the Worlds greatest keeper. It was a given that we'd win it again in Mexico. Then we played Brazil in the group stages. It was inconceivable that this would result in anything other than an England victory. We gathered around our new colour telly to watch "the game of the round". Brazil won 1-0. It would have been 2-0 had England not had Gordon Banks. All of a sudden, my eyes were opened. England were great, but Brazil were sublime. Their greatest player was Pele. Now I defy anyone, anywhere on the planet, who saw that game not to simply feel honoured to have seen it unfold. Even my Dad who was an Aussie cricket nut, with no great love of football was engrossed. In the St Vincents playground kickabout after the game, all of a sudden everyone wanted to be Pele and everyone wanted to be Brazil. When the Brazilians beat Italy 4-1 in the final, we knew the world had changed forever.

It never occured to me that Pele was a different colour to me. Brazil had a multiracial team and they were magnificent. That world cup seared a love of football into my soul. Much as I love the tribalisitic joy of supporting Manchester City FC and watching them win, I also love great players, whatever their colour, class or creed. At present Manchester City have Yaya Toure, who I believe to be the third greatest player in the world currently, behind Messi and Ronaldo. One has to suppose that a racist would not wnt such a great man in their team. Anyone who would make that choice is and idiot and not a lover of football. What about Chelsea? Didier Drogba won the Chapions League for the club. Do the racist fools who pledge allegiance to Chelsea not recognise the monumental presence of the man and his contribution. Chelsea FC have an excellent record on the pitch in regards to giving Black players opportunities. They also had an excellent black manager in Ruud Gullit, winning the FA Cup with them in 1997, their first trophy for 27 years.

So the racist thugs who support Chelsea would strip out two of the most influential figures in the clubs history and presumably hand back the trophies? Is that a love of football? Every time you insult a man for his race, you equally insult every person of that race. So in their treatment of the Parisian black man on the Metro, they have equally disrespected Gullit, Drogba and every other black Chelsea player past, present and future. Not only that, they've insulted their parents and their children. So I ask what sort of a person insults someone in such a way, who has done so much for the club they support.

If these thugs got their way and established Chelsea as a racist club, there would be a mass exodus of players. Black players would righty shun the club. The club would no longer be competing for the Chapions league, Premiership or anything else. What real football fan would want to see that?

The picture at the top of this picture was taken after the England v Brazil match in 1970. This is a picture of mutual respect. This is a picture of how men should treat each other. As an England fan, I take great pride in the fact that Bobby Moore and Pele could play on the same pitch, play a great game of football and at the end, show each other such mutual respect. As a football fan I want to see the best players, dazzling us with their sublime skills. That is what being a football fan is all about. If you don't want to watch Yaya, Pele and Drogba play the game, you clearly are not a football fan. End of.

So when we talk about racist morons, lets call them racist morons. They have nothing to offer football and no association with the game. These morons have only caused damage and shame to Chelsea FC and its supporters. They have damaged the image of the club and those who follow it. One has to suspect that the idiots haven't thought through their actions. I hope that they are identified and banned for life from every football ground in the country. The game of Association Football has so much to offer. Sadly thugs such as these put decent people off the game. They stop people taking their children and this damages the long term health of the game.

There is only one place for racism in football. That is in the dustbin of  history, something that we look back on as a sad episode involving a few idiots. Nothing else.

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