Hysterical Overreaction

Shock!  Horror!  Call for the police!  Bring in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)!  Impose huge fines and other severe punishments!  What’s happening then?  RACISM, it seems, is abroad.  Surely some people must have been discovered plotting genocide, or intending to start a race riot or at least intending to beat up their neighbours because they belong to a different race from their own? Well, er, no actually.  In separate incidents two white footballers were rude to two black footballers and, allegedly, referred to the colour of their opponents’ skin rather than the length of their noses or the amount of mud on their shorts.

Enter Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, suggesting that such incidents should be resolved with a handshake (and, presumably, appropriate apologies) after the match.  Blatter is a controversial figure, particularly in this country, and his suggestion was swept aside as his latest gaffe, demonstrating once again his unfitness to preside over international football.  However, might it not merit just a little more thought than it has received? Professional football is a hard, tough sport, involving aggressive physical contact which often contravenes the rules and sometimes escapes the notice of the referee.  The stakes for clubs and players are very high indeed, in terms of money, prestige and ambition.  The massive vocal support from the fans of the two sides electrify an already confrontational atmosphere.  Against such a background, it would be little short of miraculous if insulting exchanges did not sometimes pass between opposing players, and that abusive language might be used in the heat of the moment which, though highly regrettable, is uncharacteristic.

Ah, some will object, but such behaviour is particularly characteristic in football, which is and always has been a hot-bed of racism.  No longer true, according to The Times chief sports writer, Simon Barnes (Times December 22) who considers the instincts of English football to be now “as deeply anti-racist as they once were racist”.  Commercial logic is likely to ensure that they stay that way.  Talent is colour-blind, and professional clubs are mainly multi-racial.  The presence of racists in the dressing rooms would soon create deep divisions and enmities within the teams, catastrophically affecting performance on the field.  No manager wishing to retain his job could afford to tolerate such a situation for long before showing the culprits the door.  They would not find further employment easily.

There is a world of difference between orchestrated racist chanting and offensive words spoken by an angry individual in the heat of the moment.  For the latter, Blatter’s proposal strikes a reasonable balance between unacceptable behaviour and what is left of freedom of expression in this country.  Properly managed, a handshake, apology and perhaps a shared drink between professionals after the match might even improve race relations, by placing minor incidents of this sort in their proper perspective.  In contrast, the McCarthyesque hysteria gripping the FA, the CPS and others under the influence of our politically correct ruling elite is liable to exacerbate racial divisions rather than assuage them.  We should also be alert to that elite’s own insidious brand of racism, a subject which we will examine in detail in a future article.


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