Mark Hughes’ assertion that we will “be a lot greyer” the day racism is eradicated from football carries justifiable weight, writes Jamie Casey.
Whether it was a cunning ploy to divert attention from his underperforming team, or a genuine statement of concern, Mark Hughes’ assertion that we will “be a lot greyer” the day racism is eradicated from football carries justifiable weight.
It’s been a bad week for football, what with a mass protest at a perceived lack of action by the anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, a crazed Leeds United fan dragging the club’s name through the mud and another widespread series of simulation across the continent.
You don’t have to be a moral high ground regular to accept that the first issue is the most serious and, therefore, the most discussed throughout the game since Saturday. I won’t bore you with another recap of the details. Rather, I propose a plausible, albeit time-consuming solution.
Considering they work with an annual budget of roughly £450,000 and a skeleton staff of only seven, to me it seems the folk at Kick It Out do a great job at raising awareness of the problem, and I’m sure their cause has only helped eradicate it, even if only a fraction.
But then, I’m fortunate enough never to have received or encountered racial abuse as a fan, player and writer of football, so my opinion counts for little and, perhaps, rightly so.
It’s the opinions of those who have been directly on the receiving end that matter, and if they feel a campaign has insufficiently tackled the issues, then they should have a right not to publicly support their work.
Either way, arguing over whether or not players should or should not have worn some t-shirts is not going to raise money to support Kick It Out, or indeed any of the other anti-racism bodies, such as Show Racism the Red Card and Football Unites, Racism Divides.
On Tuesday a spokesman for The Football League claimed the governing body was not in a financial position to help fund Kick It Out in the way that the Premier League, Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) already do.
Fair enough, as the lower leagues generate a small percentage of what the Premier League amasses in revenue, and each of the 72 Football League clubs is encouraged to appoint at least one ambassador of Kick It Out.
It’s the FA who needs to take a look at themselves. What will become of the £220,000 they fined John Terry for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand? And what did they do with the £40,000 worth of punishment obtained from Luis Suarez? This money should be directed to the bank account of Kick It Out, which would boost their annual budget by over 50%.
However, it could be deemed unethical for an organisation to benefit and run largely from the proceeds of the very misdemeanours they’re trying to eliminate from the game. But I have an additional proposal.
Earlier this year the government announced plans to introduce compulsory pension schemes which will eventually see workers who don’t currently contribute towards their own future enforced to give up a tiny percentage of their wage in a bid to prepare the nation better for retirement.
Compulsory may be too forceful, but perhaps when drafting up a contract for a full-time professional footballer or manager, be it a Football League or Premier League side, it should become compulsory for clubs to offer a scheme whereby staff putting pen to paper have the option to contribute, say, 1% of their monthly wage towards the anti-racism body of their choice, with the option to withdraw from their contributions if they believe their financial aid is not being stretched far enough.
Even if just a quarter of the professional contracts signed in England over the course of the next few years took up the option to back the likes of Kick It Out, it may well pave the way for them to meet the expectations of the likes of Jason Roberts and his minions before we’re all sporting grey barnets like old Sparky.