The Football Association have revealed their intention of informing FIFA that they have found ‘no evidence’ that England fans ‘allegedly’ made racist chants in relation to Rio Ferdinand during their side’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino last month.
The continent’s anti-racism organization FARE (Footballers Against Racism in Europe) filed a complaint following the game in which two variations of one repetitive chant are clearly audible over the commentary.
One of the chants simply pronounced: “F*** off Rio Ferdinand”,
However, the other goes: “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire/Put Rio on the top/Put Anton in the middle/Then burn the f****** lot”
Ferdinand then posted on Twitter in relation to the incidents,
“You expect & accept banter on the terraces as it’s part of what makes the game great, but racism is not banter and from own fans: WOW!”
Ferdinand's club manager Sir Alex Ferguson then dismissed these chants by asserting his belief that ‘abuse is a part of society’.
Now, England’s managing director Adrian Bevington has released a statement claiming the following:
“Our security officers have gone through all the evidence which has been recorded and they cannot find or identify any individuals or groups chanting racist abuse.
“We continue to work hard to ensure that any individual who did chant anything of a racist nature is identified and if proven, action will be taken.”
Let’s start from the top, shall we? The first chant is not racist – just offensive and abusive. It’s ‘banter’ in relation to Ferdinand’s withdrawal from Roy Hodgson’s England squad which he was more than entitled to do.
It’s no coincidence in my humble opinion that Hodgson dropped Ferdinand from the squad at precisely that moment – I would even go as far to suggest there may have been a nudge and a wink from the FA in that 'football decision' by the national team coach.
The second chant is, however you look at it, racist - as clear as day – the suggestion of effectively burning two brothers to death on a bonfire is medieval in the first place but the fact that they are both high profile black professional athletes who have both been involved in very public ‘racism rows’ leaves me with not a shred of doubt that the fans were making racist chants.
Firstly, shame on them – those fans are ignorant and an embarrassment to their country at best; cruel and maleficent at worst. I suspect, had they any clue what they were alluding to, they might be more dangerous.
Then for Ferguson to come out and say that’s just a part of society is at best derisory and at worst callous. Shame on him for trying to bury his head in the sand and take a stance of tolerance and acceptance of racism and abuse.
But the greatest shame of all must be reserved for the Football Association. Shame on them for claiming they can’t find any evidence – if I can find it on YouTube in 10 seconds flat, you can find it with a team of security officers ‘working hard’ to ‘investigate’ for a fortnight.
That response insults the intelligence of a four year old, frankly. Lying just adds insult to injury.
The injury is that, far away from the world of footballers, multi-millionaires (who, by they way, I don’t care how much money they make, they should not be racially abused), but away from the spotlight, out of the media’s glare, there are adults and children alike who have received the FA’s resounding message.
Those people receive the message, the same one that Ferguson chose to perpetuate, that racism is unavoidable, that it’s a ‘part of society’, that it’s just life, that it’s frowned upon but, ultimately, tolerable. And, what’s more, that there is little or nothing that can be done about it – just get on with it, ignore it and it’ll go away.
Society knows better than that. Society knows there are courses of action that can be taken to properly combat racism and prejudice in general. Society knows there are laws to be abided and punishments for those who break them. Society knows that silence is violence, history tells us so. History tells us, in the words of Edmund Burke:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Shame on the FA, shame on Sir Alex Ferguson, and shame on those vile ‘fans’. You can whitewash it, gloss over it with any colour you like, but it’s there underneath in black and white. The FA are, however indirectly, a racist organization.
Personally, I would suggest a boycott of all products and services relating to England and their poor excuse of an authority. They have no credibility whatsoever and, what's more, history will see them for what they really are: spineless and survile.
image: © geetarchurchy