In late February, footage of Chelsea fans preventing a black man from entering their carriage on the Paris Metro, before singing, “We’re racist, we’re racist – and that’s the way we like it,” appalled the public and made headline news for several days. Lord Ouseley of the Kick it Out campaign, which works to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices in football, emerged to tell the press: “We know that prejudice is on the increase.”
Less than two weeks later, the BBC published an article citing the still-flickering spectres of the Paris Metro racists, reporting that “incidents of discrimination in English professional and grassroots football have increased,” according to Kick it Out, echoing Lord Ouseley’s claim that “prejudice is on the increase.”
The organisation’s director Roisin Wood said that Kick it Out finds the increase in reports as “encouraging” as it suggests people have been more willing to come forward, and she registered “concern” over the fact there have been few complaints of discrimination at the grassroots level. Comments by Lord Ouseley explained that the purpose of publishing statistics is to “show this is happening” in order to get more people to complain, bearing echoes of Tell MAMA (the acronym standing for “measuring anti-Muslim attacks”) a project which claims to measure anti-Muslim incidents which lost its government funding after concerns were raised over its methodology and the fact it reported an increase of Islamophobic attacks in the wake of the Lee Rigby killing without mentioning that these “attacks” amounted to people criticising Islam online.
It seems that for both Kick it Out and Tell MAMA, public perception that prejudice is alive, well and posing a massive threat to society and minority groups’ safety is paramount to their operations, and their funding.
Apparently feeling put out that they haven’t been able to thrust one of their army of dull, middle-class, identikit own into the spotlight for a few months, feminists have launched a campaign to tackle sexism in football. The campaign, which serendipitously began at precisely the same time as the “emergence” of a video of fans chanting “Get your tits out for the lads” at Chelsea’s female medic, has been running for a while.
Presumably these feminist activists, like Kick it Out, believe Liverpool FC’s stadium policies are the way forward. The club has issued a list of “unacceptable words” which staff are trained, upon hearing, to punish by removing transgressors from the stadium. This list, happily for Women in Football, prohibits phrases like “man up” and the words “princess” and “queen” (the latter being the Scouse equivalent for “love” or, in Sheffield, “duck”).
It certainly ensures no racial epithet stones are left unturned, with “nip” on the banned words list. Hopefully the word police won’t be too stringent in their application, as to be turfed out for “I’ll just nip to the bar” might be going a bit far. Similarly, the offence patrol don’t look kindly on the word “handicapped” despite many, especially older people believing this to be a polite term.
With regards to racism, however much the Kick it Out campaign sometimes overreaches today, with Mario Balotelli punished for posting an anti-racism picture that points out stereotypes and pokes fun at himself, there is at least some history and reasoning behind the crackdown on actual and perceived racist behaviour in football.
In days gone by, black footballers in this country had to endure abusive chants and bananas being hurled at them and on the continent players have been physically attacked by football fans, as happened to American player Oguchi Onyewu in Belgium.
And at least Kick it Out’s racism campaign and investigations don’t subscribe to the bizarre far-left sociologist definition of racism which dictates that “only white people can be racist,” meaning slimeball Luis Suarez came under attack after an incident with black player Patrice Evra.
Anyway, Women in Football, the group behind this month’s initiative, is apparently a network of women in the professional football industry, supporting and championing their peers. Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but I wouldn’t really count writing for the Guardian and Observer as actually “working in football.” Not in the same way as the female medic, nor the career of her co-founder, Shelley Alexander, the “Editorial Lead for Women in Sport at the BBC.”
Seems more like a case of two left-wing feminists wanting to make a name for themselves from making mountains out of molehills – a growth industry these days.
After saying that they will be issuing “a sexist briefing note” to “help match day stewards and stadium safety officials recognise sexist abuse in football stadiums”, and outlining some of the behaviour that falls under the “sexist abuse” umbrella, such as wolf-whistling and mentioning women’s body parts, a caller asked Ms Kessel whether this would apply to groups of women who wolf-whistled and shouted comments about the goalkeeper’s shorts, saying he knew women who did this.
Listeners were then treated to a stream of excuses in response, about how it’s not the same because, “the reality is women face huge barriers… are discriminated against… are underrepresented”. Sigh.
What’s so incredibly depressing about these endless campaigns is that they encourage people to be constantly vigilant and on the lookout for potentially offensive comments at a time when trust is already being eroded by never-ending additions being made to the already miles-long list of words and behaviours to be wary of.
In the article where Roisin Wood articulated dismay at the dearth of reports of prejudiced behaviour at grassroots football level, she fretted about “how many of these incidents occur each and every week that go unreported, unseen.” Does she really want or envision a society in which, say, two friends in a Sunday League team are engaging in some sort of “banter” and one accuses the other of, I don’t know, “running like a fat bird”, or something, and someone whips their phone out to file an on-the-spot report via the Kick it Out phone app?
What a depressing, Orwellian future these nincompoops want imposed on the rest of us.