Has Alan Hansen been the victim of what one might call collateral damage? Hardly had the word “coloured” emerged from his surely innocent lips than the fanatics of Political Correctness were after him.
Regardless of the fact that there is still a highly respected and influential National Association of Coloured People in the Unites States, the bigots of PC excoriated Hansen to the extent that he, instead of telling them to go to hell, abjectly and grovellingly apologised. For what? In context, the use of that word bore not a trace of prejudice or malice.
It may have been historically overtaken, but it is scarcely in the same catagory of “negrito”, which Luis Suarez unquestionably called Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, or in the stream of obscenities which John Terry may or may not aimed at the black defender Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road.
As the earliest of all senior football correspondents to deplore racism in English football when it was poisonably rife – and I had the perhaps inevitable death threats from some neo-Nazi rabble to prove it – I’ve been apalled at the grotesque way hypocrisy and intolerance have been allowed to run free.
The irony is that while the pendulum has swung so far in England, far away from the fatuous prejudices of coaches and managers who called black players cowards, we now have a situation in which English football is almost alone in its racist obsession.
Not for a moment would I endorse the highly insensitive and irresponsible behaviour of Kenny Dalglish, who must surely recall the days when John Barnes, his Liverpool team-mate, had bananas thrown at him, or that of Andre Villas Boas, who has leaped to the defence of Terry before the case is closed; even if Chelsea had the good sense to prevent their players wearing provocative pro-Terry t-shirts, as Dalglish’s have, for Suraez.
Both Suarez and Terry are hardly role models, whatever their respective talents, but in the old saying, hard cases make bad law and Suarez’s punishment seems to verge on excess while Terry has been jeered by rival fans and dissected in the Press long before his case – brought by police and not like Suarez’s, the FA – could come to court.
Elsewhere, be it Russia, Spain, Bulgaria or almost anywhere in the Balkans, racism among fans is endemic and lightly punished when punished at all. At FIFA, we have the ineffable Sepp Blatter making a fool of himself once again (after tight shorts for women players, bigger goals, kick-ins for throw-ins) – fatuously suggesting that when one player insults another racially, they should simply shake hands at the end of the game. In parenthesis, how wonderfully ironic to find the appling Jack Warner, so long Blatter’s dear friend, covering him with threats and obloquy.
Kick Out Racism? Oh, please! FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia, where racism in soccer is rampant. Look at the case of Peter Odemwingie, forced out of Lokomotiv Moscow by malevolent fans. And remember when Holland’s Dick Advocaat was managing Zenit St Petersburg, he didn’t dare to sign a black player.
Yes, English football may have over compensated. But the Russian and others go merrily on their racist way, secure in the knowledge that if Blatter does anything at all, it will simply be to make a ludicrous suggestion.
Meanwhile, credit to Alex Ferguson and David Moyes for deploring the persecution of Blackburn manager Steve Kean by rapid fans. I’ve seen Blackburn several times this season when they’ve often played good football. Not least at Norwich when two late, unlucky goals deprived them of merited victory.
By Brian Glanville