“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
A saying by the great Bill Shankly, and one that is often misquoted, seems to suggest that football was the be all and end all. But now the game has changed. Football is no longer a matter of life and death, certainly the passion in the game remains and that is something that is unlikely to ever die out, but over the years things have happened which show that actually, there are more important things.
It is a sad time in football for the majority at present, racism has once again reared its ugly head in England over the past few months with Liverpool and John Terry the high-profile culprits. Whilst Terry has yet to be tried, it is alleged that he racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand and is due in court on the 1st February to answer charges of racial aggravation.
Liverpool have also been at the forefront of the story. After the FA’s decision to find Luis Suarez guilty of racially abusing Manchester United footballer Patrice Evra and banning him for eight matches, the Liverpool players all wore shirts defending Suarez as they warmed up for a match at Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium. It was a decision to back their team-mate which has heightened the media scrutiny around Liverpool and has been widely seen as defending a proven racist.
Liverpool’s reputation has been tarnished too following the racist abuse of Oldham Athletic’s Tom Adeyemi in the FA Cup third round and events at the FA Cup fourth round tie at Anfield on Saturday, where Evra was continuously booed by the Liverpool fans and one man was seen to be making “monkey gestures” towards the player.
It is not just Liverpool fans that are causing a storm, however, in the light of the John Terry case QPR’s Anton Ferdinand was sent what appeared to be a bullet through the post on Friday. Following this, the FA decided to shun its own RESPECT campaign and abandon the pre-match handshake formalities on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Road as QPR took on Chelsea and Ferdinand went face-to-face with Terry.
Perhaps it was the correct decision in order to defuse tensions, after all it would have been more than likely that Ferdinand would not have been the only QPR player to refuse the hand of Terry.
It is not just on the football pitch, however, that racism has reappeared. Some have even taken to the social networking website Twitter to racially abuse black footballers or former footballers. Ex Liverpool, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest footballer and now turned broadcaster with talkSPORT, Stan Collymore has received countless racist tweets and has taken the brave and bold step of reporting those who racially abuse him to the Police.
Nobody seems to know just why racism has reappeared in the game and in society. One thing is certain though, it’s time to kick racism out of football and society completely.