In the year 2018, overt racism is back at the forefront of football discourse once again after Raheem Sterling was clearly and openly abused by a group of angry, white neanderthals at Chelsea on Saturday evening.
Sterling quite literally laughed off the incident at the time but, having taken a little time to process things, later shared his thoughts on the matter with an insightful Instagram post in which the Man City forward directly pointed an accusatory finger at the media’s ongoing role in fuelling prejudice against black footballers.
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Good morning I just want to say , I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point to heard I will speak up. Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better. For example you have two young players starting out there careers both play for the same team, both have done the right thing. Which is buy a new house for there mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are, but look how the news papers get there message across for the young black player and then for the young white payer. I think this in unacceptable both innocent have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded. This young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an aggressive behaviour, so for all the news papers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all i have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an give all players an equal chance.
Having found himself on the receiving end of countless tabloid lashings for crimes as varied as buying his mother a new house, shopping in Poundland or driving a dirty car, Sterling took a stand and, in his own voice, pointedly blamed the tabloids’ petty, spiteful portrayal of black footballers for the persistence of racist behaviour both in football and in wider society.
Barnes, who, like Sterling, was the recipient of sustained aggressive prejudice and racist abuse during his playing days, bemoaned the fact that, for all the campaigns and shifting tolerances, the real problem is still being danced around.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Barnes said:
As a black person in society, I don’t receive anything [racism] because I’m John Barnes.
But just because I don’t see it and it doesn’t affect me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The former Watford, Liverpool and England star then fleshed out his comments in an appearance on the BBC Breakfast programme, during which he spoke eloquently about the root issues at play – issues that still haven’t been properly addressed in the three decades that have passed since he was routinely having bananas thrown at him from the terraces.
He’s right… but he’s been right for 30 years.
While lurid tales of narcissistic young black players spending money of frivolous things such as putting a roof over their mum’s heads still serve to shift papers (to the exact type of witless idiots yelling at Sterling), you can’t imagine much is going to change from a tabloid perspective.
The only sliver of hope is that by the very laws of nature, these grunting morons and their awful opinions/attitudes are gradually, generationally dying out.
(Video: Watford Anti)