No show without Punch as they say. Or, in this instance, without Piara (“Pipsqueak?”) Powar. He is, grandiosely, the Executive Director of something called Racism in Europe and on the utter non-event of Roy Hodgson’s harmless monkey in the spaceship analogy at Wembley, he opined “Hodgson used a very silly term within a diverse term environment. He should know better”
Pomposity incarnate. But if this body is truly of European dimensions, what you wonder has it been doing about the shameful award to racist Russia of the 2018 World Cup. The country where that talented if somewhat eccentric forward Peter Odemwingie was forced out by the bigoted racist fans of Lokomotiv Moscow, who celebrated his departure for West Bromwich with a repugnant banner?
Not to mention St Petersburg, where when he managed Zenith the Dutch coach Dick Advocaat admitted he did not dare to sign a black player.
Italian football is rife with racism. It was not so long ago that Juventus fans were singing “Jump up and down if you want to kill Balotelli.” Given his goals for the Azzurri in the World Cup qualifiers, it is surely just as well that they couldn’t.
In Eastern European football, racism is rampant among fans. It is by no means alas unknown in Spain, especially among the so called ultras of Real Madrid who have been known to abuse England’s black players and, some years ago, to drive away that excellent black manager Pato Maturana who as he once told me when I met him had actually been given a signed contract. I have known liked and admired Roy Hodgson for many years and he has no need of advice or censure from pipsequeaks to impugn his undoubted tolerance.
I am reminded of the farcical consequences a few years ago of my remarking sympathetically on an Irish radio programme of the difficulties of some young gifted black players here in England, victims of one parent fatherless families – a phenomenon investigated by many a sociologist – condemned to the care of child minders who simply haven’t the time and opportunity to give them the care and attention they need and deserve. When they suddenly become at a very early age wealthy young men, coping can be hard.
The blowhard who was interviewing me instantly cried, “I disassociate myself from what Brian Glanville just said,” and the floodgates opened.
I was assailed by some Liverpool MP never heard of before, or since, criticised by some woman employee of the Professional Footballers Association, accused by an obscure Dublin newspaper which I defined as “a putrescent backwater,” who accused me of having” a clipped and plumby voice” and being in favour of corporal and capital punishment. Both of which I detest. As for my accent, my father was a Dubliner who never lost his own Irish accent till the day he died.
The ultimate irony of it was that many days ago, I was the first senior football correspondent to deplore anti black prejudice. I even wrote a satirical short story about it, “Black Magic,” which to my delight was published not only in a London evening paper but in the prominent West Indian magazine. Oh, and I also received a death threat from some squalid little neo-Nazi group for my pro black writings.
The only mistake Roy made was to be unaware or to forget the existence of so-called Political Correctness with its own innate bigotry and intolerance. There was indeed a time when racism among English fans, not least at Chelsea when poor Paul Canoville a young right-winger was viciously abused and driven out of the club. And I remember how in a Celtic-Hearts match in Glasgow Paul Elliott, that elegant centre back, was so shockingly insulted by Hearts fans that their own captain came over to remonstrate with them.
Things thank heavens have improved since then; so less power to the pipsqueaks. Not to mention pompous Peter Herbert and his fatuous “Race for Sport.”