Daniel Gregory’s column: Racism row is getting out of hand

Do you agree or disagree with Daniel's views? Tweet him @mrdanielgregory or email daniel.gregory@jpress.co.uk
Do you agree or disagree with Daniel's views? Tweet him @mrdanielgregory or email daniel.gregory@jpress.co.uk

Firsty, I have to say I am all for sanctions against any player, manager, referee or fan who is found guilty of racially abusing anyone involved within any sport.

But does anyone else think the whole business of racism in football is getting a little bit ridiculous?

It seems we’re a nation obsessed with the issue of racism now, especially in football.

Racism is totally and utterly unacceptable, don’t get me wrong, but when we hear the Society of Black Lawyers demanding both a quota of black coaches and managers, as well as asking Spurs fans to stop singing a song they have been singing for years, you know things have gone a bit too far than really necessary.

Peter Herbert, the chairman of the SBL, is the man at the centre of the furore.

Herbert made the official complaint to the Metropolitan Police after referee Mark Clatternburg’s alleged racist comments towards Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, and has now issued ludicrous warnings to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club about their supposed anti-Semitic chanting.

“We are not going to let go on this,” SBL chairman Herbert said.

“After November 20 there is a potential that people will get a criminal conviction. If they want to run that risk then fine.

“We are serious. We aren’t in this for sensationalism. We think the vast majority of Tottenham fans are sensible and do not engage in anti-Semitism.”

Where on earth has this come from? How long have Spurs fans sang their ‘Yid Army’ chant? And Herbert chooses now to stick his oar in?

Spurs fans started to use the chant as a defence mechanism after opposition supporters taunted them for their large numbers of Jewish fans.

How is them using that chant harming anyone?

Granted, away supporters making a hissing sound to mimic the sound of the gas chambers during the holocaust is totally and utterly disgusting, but the chanting isn’t hurting or offending anyone and Herbert really ought to think about what he’s doing here.

The most ridiculous thing the SBL are ‘demanding’ in their ludicrous plan though, is a quota of 20 per cent quota at all levels of the FA, PFA, clubs, agents and referees.

The SBL’s plan

* A minimum six to nine-month ban for racial abuse, rising to a five-year ban for a third offence

* Any fines going directly to Kick It Out to fund grassroots anti-racism initiatives

* The creation of representative associations for black players, managers and coaches

* Guidance for referees to send off players using racist abuse and the power to call off games where the crowd is using such abuse

* A 20 per cent quota at all levels of the FA, PFA, clubs as well as football agents and referees

* Racial abuse to be a matter of gross misconduct incorporated into players’ contracts

* Clubs to invest in the personal education of all players, including university or college education

* Recording referees and assistants during matches to pick up any possible abuse by players.

* A system for reporting racial incidents to be set up with details of these incidents, both on and off the pitch, published each year

How ridiculous an idea is a quota in football? Yes, it is probably an issue in the game that there aren’t enough black coaches and managers about. But what a ridiculous suggestion. How would you police a quota for starters?

The SBL’s idea almost mirrors the Rooney Rule adopted by the NFL since 2003. The Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 back in 2003 after they failed to interview minority candidates after their head coach left. They hired from within and were subsequently heftily fined.

Imagine if the SBL got their way and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson decided to retire come the end of the season. United want to interview Jose Mourinho and David Moyes but they have to go through the motions of interviewing a manager of an ethnic minority background.

What a waste of both the club and the candidate’s time. I hope that the FA stand firm with Herbert and the SBL and realise this rule would be catastrophic for the game.

It wouldn’t just be coaches and managers though. The SBL state they want 20 per cent at all levels of the FA and PFA, as well as match officials too.

How hard done to would a caucasion referee who has worked hard and taken all the tests and gained all the qualifications feel if he had to be replaced by a black referee who isn’t as qualified and possibly not as good? The rule would quite simply open up a can of worms and should never be voted in.

Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel focused on the SBL’s intrusion of the beautiful game in a recent column.

Discussing the exit of actor Colin Salmon off BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, Samuel penned: “Even so, he (Salmon) said goodbye with such grace and generosity of spirit that, despite the manipulative nature of reality television, it was really quite moving.

“The judges looked genuinely regretful at his departure. If this were football, the Society of Black Lawyers would have been on to the Metropolitan Police before the titles came up.”

This sums it up perfectly for me. Samuel couldn’t have put that any better.

Football is a phenomenal game with wide-stretching influence in modern society, and I think the game here is at least 10 years ahead of he majority of other european nations when it comes to tackling racism within the game.

All the money and hype surrounding the game have improved the standards on the pitch undoubtedly, but the amount of off-field issues that surround it are starting to set a bad example for kids up and down the country.

You will never totally eradicate the problem of racism within football, the intrusion of the SBL is, in my opinion, counter-productive and will make the problem even worse.

I think I’ll let Samuel sum this up perfectly for me.

“Sometimes, when trying to do the right thing, those who are supposed to be part of the solution become part of the problem. Football is approaching this point now.”

What do you think? Email me daniel.gregory@jpress.co.uk or Tweet me @mrdanielgregory