2012 has been one of the more dramatic years in English football and not necessarily due to goals, results and tactics on the pitch. With fans slapping players, sick taunts of death wishes and disrespect for the deceased and the FA coming under more criticism than ever about their handling of situations, the game in its home country has taken a backwards step. But who’s to blame and how do we progress? Do things need to get worse before they get better? And what does the press have to do to help things along, or do they just need to sell papers?
This evenings London newspaper leads its sports section with a headline seemingly attacking John Terry for agreeing to wear the ‘Unite against racism’ captains armband. But why? Isn’t that what they want him to do? I certainly think its the least he should do. Don’t they want him to get on board with the campaign and help kick it out of football? Did they expect him to refuse to wear it just because he accepted his FA ban last week? I get the feeling they are pigeon holing him as a racist and that allows them to act shocked that he’s going to wear an anti racism armband. It makes for a more shocking headline.
Turning the pages to read the other sports pages I find a report about certain players that didn’t wear the kick it out t shirts. I’m left confused as to their stance, are they for or against the anti racism campaigns? Are they happy for everyone to wear the campaign slogans as long as they are white and not been accused of racism in the past?
The press as a whole vilified John Terry before, during and after the court case and (rightly or wrongly) condemned the FA as hopeless for being so lenient on him in applying just a four match ban (and £220k fine). Chelsea and John Terry have apologized and then half a dozen players made a stand against the anti racism campaign and I assume the lenient FA charge. When is the time to draw a line under this episode and focus on the campaign issues themselves? Are the press happy to spread the word of the campaign and not hide it under a cloud of attacking the big names of the day? I doubt it. One of the main trends I’ve seen since the weekend is for the press to talk about how the players that refused to wear the kick it out t shirts are distracting people from the actual issues of the campaign. For instance SAF being upset with Rio, managers backing their players that have an issue with the campaign, the whole hand-shake-gate that will no doubt come up in the upcoming Chelsea v Man United games. But surely it’s the press that are allowing them to distract from the issues? It’s the press that can focus the general public on what ever story they want to. It’s the press that write endless stories about these items and barely mention what the positives of the campaign are.
They suggest the FA need to be consistent in their processes but there has not been the same level of press about the Oldham player who racially abused the ball boy, so are the press guilty of inconsistency too?
They have quite rightly stressed that Chelsea and John Terry needed to, which they have done, apologies to the Ferdinand family for the undue stress this last year has caused them. Are the press association going to do the same in 6 months time when they are still bringing the issue up? I really cant see them apologizing to the Ferdinand Family for dragging them through the issues for longer than is necessary. Are they going to suggest Rio apologizes to Ashley Cole and his family for the Choc Ice tweet storm? Will Oldham be pushed to do the same to the ballboy who is surely the bigger victim considering his age? It’s unlikely, although I have had one journo agree with me on this on twitter.
In summary John Terry has been charged and what ever you think of the leniency of the charge its done with. People shouldn’t be made to wear a t shirt or shake someone’s hand if they don’t want to, but those people should then have the guts to explain why if its an initiative that the FA have come up with regarding a wider issue. Therefore those that didnt wear the t shirt should work WITH the campaign to raise their concerns and give their ideas for helping the cause. Ashley Cole shouldn’t have called The FA a bunch of twats and was right to apologize immediately and personally. Ryan Bertrand was right to defend the idea he only had a sore throat for missing the England game but wrong to swear. Anyone found to have abused the players on twitter should be banned from the site. Rio should apologize to Ashley and his family. Liverpool and Man United should stop their Hillsborough and Munich songs. Oldham should take their player to the FA to be charged. Leeds should find, report and ban that fan for life and the press should move on from past events that have now closed.
And damn right John Terry should wear the Unite against Racism armband. Whether or not he should still be captain, is another article.
If they can all do that, maybe, just maybe, well be ale to talk about football and still the best league in the world. Just.