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Is Football Racist? My Dad's story

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Clarke Carlisle Clarke Carlisle | 10:00 UK time, Monday, 16 July 2012

It's not an exaggeration! Here I am, 32 years of age, I've been a professional footballer for half of my life yet I've never talked to my Dad about his days within the game.

The truth is I'm kind of glad that I hadn't.

My dad left school with the dream of being a footballer but only managed to play at semi-professional level at his peak, despite his widely acknowledged ability.

It was his experiences as a black player in the Preston and District leagues that alarmed me.

When BBC Three approached me to present Is Football Racist? I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to gain a real understanding about this very emotive issue, one that I regularly speak about in my capacity at the Professional Footballers' Association.

Footballer Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle

I expected to hear some differing experiences to my own but not really anything to challenge my personal beliefs around the issue.

In making the documentary I asked my Dad for the first time about his experience of football culture in the 70s and 80s.

The emotions it brought up on camera took us both by surprise.

"Kicked, punched, head-butted, stamped on", and that was ON the pitch. My Dad could barely bring himself to recall the details of events OFF the pitch.

He kept going back every week, to the terraces and to the pitch, because he loves football, but I'm not sure I would've been the same.

Maybe it's because of the different eras. Dad was used to the abuse and prejudice in daily life so it wasn't unusual for him. Why should it be any different at the football?

Despite our shared passion for football Dad decided never to take me to a game when I was a kid. He didn't want me to be in that atmosphere in the stands.

I've grown up in a different time and if I encountered now any of what he experienced then I'd be horrified.

I often wonder if I'd love the game as much if I had known Dad's story. The truth is that I probably would.

Once the conversation got going we went on to talk about how much he wanted to be a footballer, what it would've meant. Of how Viv Anderson playing for England was a real "wow" moment, not just for him but for the black man in England.

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Clarke talks to his dad about his experiences of racism on the pitch

So when we reflected on what it meant to us for me to pull on an England shirt we both broke down! The realisation of a dream for father and son.

Dad consciously sheltered me from what he knew was out there, he'd experienced it first-hand. I appreciate him doing that because it gave me the freedom to pursue goals without pre-conceived fears of 'potential' barriers.

I will do the same for my kids too. I don't want to burden them with what 'might' be a problem in life. I want to empower them. I want them to believe that they can achieve anything if they work hard enough, not program them to see barriers.

Making this film has helped me to see football's problem: it's made up of humans.

Football is no different to society. It's comprised of young men from local estates up and down the country.

Football is not the elixir to cure society's ills, if things need to change then we all have to change them.

Football can, however, lead the way by setting an example that is watched by hundreds of millions of people across all ages, faiths and cultures on a weekly basis.

Its influence is unparalleled.

Clarke Carlisle is the presenter of Is Football Racist?

Is Football Racist? is on Monday, 16 July at 9pm on BBC Three. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    An interesting, if rather short piece.

    Unfortunately I feel that football is not necessarily a reflection of society as a whole. Footballers and their clever lawyers have become all to powerful and almost untouchable.

    Until FIFA and others take to task these overpaid thugs, incidents like the J Terry one will continue to happen. They are a daily feature on the news, T Bramble, J Terry, W Rooney, have all had isssues recently, and you could continue with a very long list.

    Football is a poisoned, vile, out of touch with society little world that needs to be dismantled then rebuilt before you can change it.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't reject the entire hypothesis that a sport, rather than just a society in general, can be racist. There is a boorishness and group mentality amongst football fans that results in the victimisation of minorities and those who stand out. I also totally acknowledge the disgusting treatment that black players had to endure in the 70's and 80's and that, where any part of this continues into the present day, this needs to be addressed by the authorities and dealt with accordingly.

    I can't help thinking, though, that our very definition of 'racism' is stuck somewhere in the 1970's too. Obviously there is still the simplistic 'white-on-black' racism which is still seen today but there are many cultural tensions in modern-day Britain (e.g. religious) to which appearence (skin colour) can quite obvioulsy mark a deliniation. If you went back 1000 years or so you'd be able to identify northern Europeans by their fair hair, certain celtic tribes by red heair and freckles, etc. Obviously the worst kind of racism involves calling a person / player less than human (in all kinds of disgusting forms I won't allude to here).

    But isn't what Rio Ferdinand Tweeted (or, say, Diane Abbot before him) every bit as racist as what John Terry may or may not have expressed to Anton Ferdinand. But such is the hyprocrisy or, at best, current narrative, that nothing was done / will be done in these instances.

  • Comment number 4.

    I feel insulted that professional footballers are supposed to represent how the majority of the country behaves. Does anyone honestly think that the disgusting behavior of Terry, Ferdinand etc. is how normal people behave? And surley there is not a single person that thinks that Ferdinanad, or his odious brother came out of this with any more credit than the awful John Terry?
    The lot of them are pathetic, from the foul mouther Rooney, to Lampard being sick in front of Americans caught at Heathrow during 9/11.
    Racism is NOT rife in football, but pathetic, ignorant people are.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm sure there are racists within the football world just as there'll be a selection of everyone represented in society as a whole. I've seen racist abuse directed at a player and also seen the whole section of crowd around me shout the guy down and have him ejected by stewards. We've seen Terry found not guilty by a court but I have little doubt that he'll find himself with a ban from the FA along with Anton Ferdinand.

    Not sure the FA can act against Rio's support of Tweets though I wish they would.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not one for people calling each other names, in particular insulting to ones colour but to ask the question 'is football racist' is over kill to the extreme.
    There are racist's and bigots of all race and creed, not confined to football, fact!
    Football as a whole came out tarnished over the Ferdinand, Terry issue, frankly they both deserved a serious talking to for their ludicrous and disrespectful behavior, as did the brother for laughing at the further gormless comments on twitter.
    I would say the BBC should have presented the programme as 'does football present an appalling example to young people and represent the fall in standards in society' which to me would be far more relevant.

  • Comment number 7.

    Football isn't racist. Just certain individuals are.

    It's a lot less racist than in the 80's. Kenny Dalglish proved that last season, he tried to turn the clock back to the 80's and succeeded in making Liverpool much more known for racism, reflecting footballs past.

    The worst thing about todays game is how much power the top players hold, they can do whatever they want as 2 points out. For some reason football doesn't see this as a problem.

  • Comment number 8.

    Comment #1 you should be ashamed of yourself. Whilst I agree that trying to profit financially out of it is a strange route, just calling racial abuse "banter" is short-sighted and, in my opinion, ignorant. You can cut/dye/style your hair or gain/lose weight if you want to, you cannot change the colour of your skin. Banter based on choice of appearance is fair game, abuse based on a trait someone cannot change (and shouldn't be made to fee like they should want to change) is not. Would you mock someone with Down Syndrome? Or with MS? Or someone confined to a wheelchair? The principle is exactly the same. It is not merely "sticks and stones".

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the question is wider than this. Is it acceptable for fans to chant offensive terms at players on a pitch. Do these terms only become unacceptable if colour is mentioned?

    David Beckham for example whilst playing for England was subjected to particularly vile abuse about his wife and child but are we really saying that is ok as long as they don't mention his colour?

  • Comment number 10.

    But isn't what Rio Ferdinand Tweeted (or, say, Diane Abbot before him) every bit as racist as what John Terry may or may not have expressed to Anton Ferdinand. But such is the hyprocrisy or, at best, current narrative, that nothing was done / will be done in these instances.

    Both are blatant cases of racism. You are correct, nothing will be done about either. What would happen to me, if I posted on Twitter that Ashley Cole is a "Choc ice"?
    We ALL know the answer to that.

  • Comment number 11.

    The sport isn't racist a handful of those that play and watch it are.

    The programme about the Ukranian fans highlighted the problems some countries have, if FIFA/UEFA wanted to stamp it out, they could. Everyone knows if the scenes on the fighting in the crowd during the Ukranian league matches happend over here, all our clubs would be banned from European competitions just like they were when Liverpool got the 5 year ban on English teams.

    Diving and cheating are just a big a problem, football needs retrospective bans from looking at video evidence, then you'd stomp everything out.

  • Comment number 12.

    Is football racist? In a word no. Certainly not any more than society is. I'm sorry but I feel that this programme (much like the Panorama about Poland/Ukraine) is overeacting. Certainly there is abuse in the game, directed at players, managers, etc but I don't know why racist abuse should be distinguished from Arsene Wenger being called a pedophile. I think the BBC is not helping by jumping on the bandwagon, instead of treating this as isolated case that by chance happened to coincide with the Suarez incident, you're digging up a can of worms that is stoking tensions and is leading to draconian calls for a crackdown on players swearing at each other.
    Football is far ahead of society in terms of offering equal opportunities for its players, people ought to remember that, as well as before the like's of Barnes, people like Pele and Eusebio had already proved to the world what exceptionally talented black players could do

  • Comment number 13.


    I agree completely. I've been saying similar things to people for a long time and all I get from them is a bunch of tripe about how it's different when you bring race into it especially when you don't know the other person that well.

    I mean, what's the difference between the people who call Rooney a bald so-and-so to John Terry calling Anton Ferdinand a black so-and-so? To me both are on the same level as insults because you're criticising the person for something they were born with. So where do you draw the line?

    If the FA are going to punish Terry for what he said then they need to take the same stance on discrimination in general; race should be irrelevant. Similarly, if they don't end up punishing him then what does it say about how they treated Suarez? Let's not forget Luiz Suarez's words weren't anywhere near as bad as Terry's. Literally translated he simply called Evra 'black' a few times.

    If they don't end up punishing Terry at all then it will have proved my initial reaction that they were looking for a scapegoat to outline their supposed stance on racism.

  • Comment number 14.

    David Beckham for example whilst playing for England was subjected to particularly vile abuse about his wife and child but are we really saying that is ok as long as they don't mention his colour?

    Exactly........abuse is fine as long as you don't say the "N" word, or even the word black. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 15.

    Everyone on earth is racist - it is natural.
    Black people are racist
    White people are racist
    Asians are racist.
    this is a fact of life.

  • Comment number 16.

    Abuse of all kinds is a problem. But the only thing that needs to be done to fix that is for the FA to announce that from the start of next season, they will be enforcing the rule for foul language to be punished with an immediate red card. It'll stop after one weekend. Even better if they give the refs microphones.

    As for the racism, we all know that most fans would kill to have players like drogba or essien in their team. "Racism" from fans and players is nothing more than trolling, that is done because they know it will get a reaction. And with these kinds of stories we are giving it to them.

  • Comment number 17.


    Bit of a generalisation is it not kid?

  • Comment number 18.

    The BBC are now going out of their way to fan the flames of racism again. After the fiasco of their EURO 2012 programme, they really should learn to do more homework.
    As the most racist comment in the public domain regarding the recent trial came from Rio Ferdinand, I am surprised that the BBC made no comment on this. Although, as we all know, Rio can make as racist a comment as he likes, because in the FA eyes, the BBC eyes, only white people are racist. Un-educated fools like Ferdinand use this to their own advantage, to insult fellow professionals in public,and tell everyone it is nothing to do with anyone else.
    Class man hey?

  • Comment number 19.

    15. the_diego

    If you are able to explain that comment you might find someone to agree with you.

    I very much doubt you'll manage to do that, in which case we'll need to assume you're the very type of boorish idiot who we feared would drag down the level of debate on this article.

  • Comment number 20.

    It just feels like the media are trying to find something from nothing. I mean yesterday the choc-ice comment that Ferdinand said was funny, initially it was portrayed as if he wrote the comment himself. So now a black person is being racist to a black person? How can that work?

    I'm not saying there is no racism in football, or in fact any other sport but this whole situation has gone way over the top. Fact is if the FA try and ban every player who makes a racist comment, then surely they will have to ban any player is swears or says something to another player. Which is simply not going to happen.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ smackeyes

    Just the conclusion I came to after seeing all angles of the arguement.

    funny thing in all this is that Ferdinands are quite fair in skin colour and complexion.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Racism, sexism, ageism, have been around since time began and will continue to be around long after most of us are gone.

    What can change is the way "stars" conduct themselves and realise they are "idols" to some impressionable people. Children look up to these fools and as a respectable member of society,I feel our offspring deserve better. Dont send these players off or ban them. Hit their wages because that is all they understand. If they cant go out boozing, they probably wont kill people in RTA's or rape women or assault random folk.

  • Comment number 24.

    8.At 13:09 16th Jul 2012, 0darroch wrote:
    Comment #1 you should be ashamed of yourself. Whilst I agree that trying to profit financially out of it is a strange route, just calling racial abuse "banter" is short-sighted and, in my opinion, ignorant. You can cut/dye/style your hair or gain/lose weight if you want to, you cannot change the colour of your skin.

    I beg to differ - Michael Jackson ;)

  • Comment number 25.

    Terrible, lazy article also. Can't the BBC find something better to spend OUR money on, than a dreadfully written article, about how bad racism was in the 80's? Don't we already know that it was terrible in the 70's and 80's?
    If the author really thinks that nothing has changed he really is not doing himself any credit with such nonsense comments.
    The problem is not a racist problem, it is that ALL players think that they can behave in any way they want to.

  • Comment number 26.

    What would have happened if John Terry had called a black player "Choc-Ice"? Black people / players can be racist as well, but Rio isn't - he's just dumb!

  • Comment number 27.

    Clarke I really hope you read this.

    Wake up son.

    Football is results driven. 99.9% of people involved don't care about ANYTHING other than their team winning. They don't care if their team is full of horrible human beings. They don't care if they are overpaid. They don't care if they cry and scream like little girls every time anyone comes near them. They don't care if they cheat. I'm Scottish and our national team is becoming England "D" and most of our fans don't care as long as results improve, even though it defeats the whole point of international football. 99.9% of people don't care about skin colour. All they want is for their team to win.

    Quotas are a form of discrimination. If you want quotas, then 9 of the England team should be white.... but that would never happen. It would be ridiculous and "racist." The only thing that people should be judged on is their ability to do the job. Until everyone gets to this point, the country will never become what it can be... BEYOND RACE.

    If you Sir, want football to set an example, then campaign for your members to stop cheating, playacting and generally disgracing themselves during every game.

    You also need to say that footballers ARE NOT role models and they never should be. Their is a huge difference between admiring the way somebody can do something (like kicking a ball) and a role model and you have to make that distinction.

    Once again, wake up.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is truly a crazy world when you can spout vile abuse about someones sister, girlfriend mother etc. and it is endorsed without punishment, but mention something about their colour and lets rack up £100,000+ for a trial where the maximum fine was £2.5k.

    FA and all in power have turned a blind eye to the abuse between players and to referees which is clearly visible to kids and all at the game and watching on TV. Football is totally decimated, corrupt, greed ridden and without morality, but never mind about all that, lets persecute one of our best players for some pathetic playground comment, just for an agenda...

  • Comment number 29.

    As with others I do not think football is more racist than general society, but it is a culture where cheating is rife and effectively colluded with by the sport's administration. What Terry and Ferdinand were certainly engaging in was unsporting behaviour to gain an advantage by riling an opponent - sledging and cheating. FIFA guidance on Rule 12 is clear that a player MUST be cautioned for "acts in a manner which shows a lack of respect for the game" or "verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart". In games I watch I will typically see the ref ignore such behaviour at least 20-30 times.

  • Comment number 30.

    How exactly does what some random person wrote on Twitter suddenly mean Rio Ferdinand is racist? If anything, all he did was repeat what someone else said.

    Which I believe was the chief defence in a recent case involving a footballer.....

  • Comment number 31.

    lalx3 @10

    Both are blatant cases of racism. You are correct, nothing will be done about either. What would happen to me, if I posted on Twitter that Ashley Cole is a "Choc ice"?
    We ALL know the answer to that.

    Correct, which only goes to show that if you are black it does not necessarily mean you understand racism or it's current day meaning. Ferdinand has merely highlighted the situation we find ourselves in, which the vast majority, actively encouraged.

    We seem to have directed everything at one issue involving one section of society which is foolhardy. There are many kinds of racism today, a vast change from the day when racism had a defined meaning.

    But we do this with everything in our society, child poverty is the prime example. No longer does it mean being deprived of water, a roof, food etc. Todays child poverty has comparisons such as does a child have access to facilities or the same benefits as others.

    We are in danger of becoming a society at odds with each other on all issues.

  • Comment number 32.

    Law 12 of the game states that "Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and or gesture" is one reason a referee can give a red card and dismiss the player from the field of play. In local football the referee gets the players together at the beginning of the game and reminds them of this law and then applies it.
    I have never understood why it is not equally applied at the highest levels of the game. However if the FA wanted to there is no reason why they can't enforce this law. After a few players get sent off the message would sink in and they would learn quickly.
    I don't think footballs are intrinsically more racist than any other parts of society but they have come accustomed to using language that they would not use off the field, on the field. Applying Law 12 would help improve the image of the game.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes, there is some racism in football, as there is in all walks of life. It isn't just white on black/asian however. There is a fair bit the other way too. I know. I'm a white male and have been called a 'white b*****d' on more than one occassion. Even had a bottle thrown at me some while back from a passing car full of asians followed by the obligatory 'white b*****d'. Anyway, that's life. No, the problem I feel is largely with our media and the BBC in particular. They have become obsessed with the issue of late, and it's getting worse. They all need to take a deep breath and step back a little. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad, and the first step to madness is obsession. Don't beleive me? Then don't . Just watch Hitchcock's Vertigo. You will see what obsession does to you there.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ban twitter!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    30. At 13:34 16th Jul 2012, Weallfollowunited wrote:
    How exactly does what some random person wrote on Twitter suddenly mean Rio Ferdinand is racist? If anything, all he did was repeat what someone else said.

    Which I believe was the chief defence in a recent case involving a footballer.....

    You are correct, this was someone's defence. You are also correct, that it a so-called racist remark was taken to court. So maybe, just maybe, that idiot Ferdinand should not be making flippant remarks about racism, as he would be the first to cry if it was directed at him.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    I do not believe that football is inherently racist like society in general it has a small minority who are racist or hold racist views. The football community has moved on light years since the debase days of the 70’s and 80’s. Obviously the recent court case about the alleged racial abuse by John Terry has brought the issue into focus, however I feel this saga this is not really about whether football is racist, but more to do with the so called football elite becoming untouchable due to the fact that they can afford top lawyers. If I or anyone around me said what JT apparently shouted to Ferdinand we would be expelled from the ground and would probably have our season ticket withdrawn/cancelled.

    Words of abusive nature do get aired in the heat of a moment and if JT had only apologised explaining that it was all down to the moment and he never meant what he said it would have not even reached the media let alone the courts. Unfortunately thought these overpaid professional footballers a think that they are untouchable and the law that applies to rest of does not apply to them and the recent court hearing has only enhanced that belief.
    These people are held up as role models for our kids. What sort of signal does letting him get away with this send to the kids?

  • Comment number 38.


    The question posed is too simple and the answer must be 'yes, in part'. Football and indeed society is also sexist and homophobic as well and since these discriminations are almost not talked about at all, I would say that they are more deserving of discussion at this time rather than racism.

    The whole Terry affair has skewed people's idea of what the issue is and what could and should be done.

    But I don't think it's particularly football's problem rather than the problem of any other part of society.

  • Comment number 39.

    DB Cooper

    Their is a huge difference between admiring the way somebody can do something (like kicking a ball) and a role model and you have to make that distinction.

    Please explain how a child is meant to make this distinction. Footballers ARE role models to children.

  • Comment number 40.

    Numbers 1, 13 and 14 all have a very good point but it goes much further than that.

    Taking a step away from football and looking at society as a whole the very term racism, (or sexism, ageism etc) is the problem. By giving it a name it has a place in society a label people can use for their own agenda. Instead of having a different term for different types of abuse or discrimination it should all have the same name whether you are abusing someone because skin colour, religion, sexuality, height, weight, colour/lack of hair, size of ears etc.

    Abuse is abuse what ever it is about and we should not see it on the football pitch in school or in society. But to give abuse a label depending on type exaggerates the differences between groups of people and creates divisions in society.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 20.At 13:22 16th Jul 2012, jdowling18 wrote:

    'So now a black person is being racist to a black person? How can that work?'

    Have you ever heard of the concept of 'self-racism'? It exists. Do not believe otherwise.

  • Comment number 42.

    @19, @15 is right. People of all skin colour are racists about others, it is just a fact of life. I grew up in East London as a kid and was called a white this, a white that etc, by asians and blacks alike. In the strictest sense of what is talked about here, that is racist.
    The biggest issue I see with all this is that black people especially have a real bee in their bonnet about racism and equality etc. They want to be treated the same as other skin colours and yet insist on always going on about racism and their skin colour. If they want to be treated the same, get on with life and accept what you are. Instead, they have/want black music awards, black football player associations, black police federations etc.etc. There would be uproar if there was a white music awards or a white PFA etc. and yet not an eyelid is bat when the blacks want to 'represent themsleves'. Quite simply, having specific skin colour based debates, groups and organisations merely widens the gap and does not bring people together. To most people in this coutry, it simply is not an issue. By continuing to raise it and keep it in the public mind, it remains a topic that provokes division rather than achieves resolution.

  • Comment number 43.

    @1 - Black people can also be fat and bald. If you want an actual comparison it would someone calling you derogatory names for a white person. So your example is nonsense.

    Unless of course you don't mind calling you (and just remember it will be when you're not expecting it) names relating to your race? Something I very much doubt.

    As for the "choc-ice" comment. Ferdinand didn't say it. Although he does appear to have endorsed it. The comment is indeed racist and is up there with "inside-out blackman" and "bounty". Ferdinand should be made to explain himself. And the idiot who tweeted to Ferdinand should be reported to the Police.

  • Comment number 44.

    #30 Weallfollowunited

    Ferdinand would have been better to have kept a close counsel over the whole affair. Comments of his over the last few months have dragged himself into it when he might otherwise have been able to hold his head high.

    Another loser in this whole sorry debacle.

  • Comment number 45.

    @19. At 13:22 16th Jul 2012, harbourmaster wrote:

    so you want to debate racism in football??
    or racism in general - I am Highly qualified to debate on these matters and travel the world doing so. Therefore a person with similar knowledge would endorse my view and agree with it.
    Please go out and see the world - it will help you to not make suck boorish and ignorant statements about people you do now know.

  • Comment number 46.

    30. At 13:34 16th Jul 2012, Weallfollowunited

    Please can you not base your comments regarding that idiot Ferdinand on what football club he represents. Any decent person would be ashamed of his stupid comment.

  • Comment number 47.

    @ No. 27 - well played.

    I used to adore the game - playing, watching and coaching. Now I only enjoy coaching, because I get to affect change in young footballers. I get to "force" them to shake hands after the game, to not argue with the referee, to get up when not hurt, to not dive, to not swear, to NEVER entertain the temptation of bringing someone's colour into a discussion - is there anything more ignorant by the way?! I've run out of things to say so I'll throw a racial slur.

    We see the things I mention above week in, week out and it's turned me right off the game. Players storming off the pitch in reaction to being substituted, or losing. Rolling around the floor after no contact in a tackle. There is little to no class in the game anymore. Racism is only a small part of it, but we in this country turn it into a huge part of it because we want to be recognised as an equal opportunity country. But all these stories and documentaries serve to prove is how we take football too seriously and the problem doesn';t lie with the fans, it lies with the players. They are the ones that antagonise their fans with their disgusting behaviour. I could give so many examples but they depress me so I won't.

    Any player of mine that argues with the ref is hauled off for 10 minute punishment (rolling subs at low levels of the game) and that is my tamest punishment; I ban players for 3 matches for bringing the game I love into 'disrepute', punishment is the only way some people will learn. Especially the miseducated (99% of footballers are), FA, please do something about it. Punish Terry and Ferdinand for wasting everyone's time and be stricter on these overpaid idiots for spoiling what used to be a wholesome sport.

  • Comment number 48.

    #39 smackeyes

    Please explain how a child is meant to make this distinction. Footballers ARE role models to children.
    Because anything a minor does should be known about by their adult supervisor.

    I hope my children grow to enjoy football and see the effort and standards that are necessary to become a top professional. But I will explain to them the difference between being a real person and being a professional at a given profession.

  • Comment number 49.

    Football can't be racist because it's a game. Words can't be racist because they're a communication platform. Human societies though are racist - some in dangerous levels.

    The day John Terry was given the opportunity to tell us "I am innocent" is a sad day for English football. It's even sadder a day for British society, for reasons I don't want to explain but because this event has been one that can have immediate impact on everyday life.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    It wasn't the brightest comment ever made but then I wouldn't think Rio is paticularly bright. Since he's said the comment doesn't mean anything racist and Ashley Cole has said he doesn't care and him and Rio are good friends, what's the big deal?

    Just another reason to talk about racism to seem high and mighty compared to the likes of Ukraine and Poland?

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    @13 - In the late 1990s Ian Wright said that the racist abuse he received at games also referred to him losing his hair. He was called a Black balding "XYZ" several times. So you're comparison is actually off the mark. Black people can be bald and fat. The comparison would be someone using Rooney's colour (white) and/or racial background (Irish) into the equation.

    A good way to understand this would be if you're child was playing a football match against a team of a different colour. And he was subjected to racial taunts throughout the game, would you just tell him its ok. Or would you go and confront those doing it? I have a feeling you'd be over like a shot to confront them.

    Recently a un-reformed racist former footballer Sinisa Mihajlovic complained that his family were being racially abused about their Serbian heritage at matches in Italy. And especially by the fans of the club he was managing at the time, just before he was left the job. A fans group pointed out that they were only using language that was in common use by Italians to describe people from the Balkans.

    The same group also pointed out that Mihajlovic has used the same excuse to justify racially abusing several black players. They said it seems that Mihajlovic thinks that racism is a way street. Acceptable for him to do, but not others.

    And I would say that a lot of people who claim its just banter or said in the heat of the moment would be the first to lash out. Especially if they are subjected to it every week or it was their children being abused.

  • Comment number 54.

    51: If he didn't think the comment was related to Cole's race what was he laughing at? Did he find it amusing that Cole is like an ice cream?

  • Comment number 55.

    51. Weallfollowunited.

    But it is a racist comment. If I called Rio Ferdinand a "choc ice", or agreed with that term, I would be in trouble for being a racist.
    I agree he is a particularly un-intelligent person, so why comment in the public domain, about something he is supposed to be against?
    He should be charged by the FA. The fact that AC agent has made his comment is neither one thing nor another.
    A racist comment was approved by Rio Ferdinand, and he should be charged the same as you or I would be.

  • Comment number 56.

    #51 Weallfollowunited

    Previously, I actually thought Rio was more down to earth than all of this, but that's by the by.

    Anyway, could we say, by your rationale, that in the Terry case, the member of the public who instigated the complaint (an off duty copper watching at home on tv) should have been called into the witness stand to explain how what he saw (or what he thinks he saw) offended him?

  • Comment number 57.


    A good theory, however when you were young if your dad had said Evil Knievel was good at jumping cars etc, but you should not emulate him, what would you have said?

    " yeah ok " and then gone out on your Grifter with some planks of wood to make a ramp????

  • Comment number 58.

    How would I know, ask him. I'm just going off what he said, feel free to speculate about other reasons.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    How about the BBC led panorama propaganda about the Euros, leading ex-players, politicians and officials to warn people not to go to the neo nazi states of Ukraine and Poland in fear of being attacked in the street, fear for your life!!!! Didn't see to much of that myself.

    English FA and football in this country makes Sepp Blatter look intelligent, who is closer to the mark with shake hands at the end of a game and forget about it.

  • Comment number 61.


    What a load of nonsense, self-racism that is just a ridiculous word that some psychologist has made up. You really believe in such a thing?

    If a black person says something about another black person's colour, isn't this just the same as a white person calling someone a ginger for having ginger hair? So your calling that self-racism?

  • Comment number 62.

    Maybe, I don't have the slightest clue how trials work though. I would think the piece of footage featuring John Terry showed quite clearly what the offensive words were though.

  • Comment number 63.

    #57 smackeyes

    Presumably, the dangers would be explained.

    And anyway, I had a striker then a racer. Never a grifter. :-)

    Seriously though, this whole 'role model' defence or idea is an example of people (parents etc) trying to wriggle out of their own responsibilities.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    I'm sure Paul Scholes has been called a ginger whatever and Peter Crouch has been called a lanky whatever.
    I've been called a four-eyed whatever and a bald whatever.
    What a pity I'm not black then at least I could take my name callers to court.
    btw why isn't it racist to call Barack Obama the first black President when he's just as much white as he is black?

  • Comment number 66.

    Weallfollow, same excuse as Suarez then really isn't it. Ferdinand shouldn't agree with things he doesn't fully understand.

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree with some of what you are saying, but however well I raise my son, there will always be other factors that come into play, and other people too. It's very difficult to shield children from all influences however hard you try.

    If it was that easy, all children would grow up as lawyers no?

    P.s wish my kid had a Grifter, might build his arm muscles a bit, they weighed a tonne.

  • Comment number 68.

    One interesting point that is never mentioned . If you look at the ethnic make up of premier league teams Football could never be classed racist.
    The police that led the prosecution, the British legal system, the press that write about it are dominated by white people, as is higher education. Football is one of the only professions that a working class kid of any ethnic origin can be guaranteed to make a great wage as long as they have the talent. This is not condoning what goes on but the day one can walk into a Britsh court system and see Black judges and a proportional mix of Lawyers and barristers will be the day that the media and the legal system can condemn soccer from a position of not being hypocrites

  • Comment number 69.

    "If a black person says something about another black person's colour, isn't this just the same as a white person calling someone a ginger for having ginger hair? So your calling that self-racism?"

    In the immortal words of Tim Minchin, only another ginger can call a ginger ginger.

    I've been randomly abused on the street by men - both black and white - for having red hair. It's not racism but it is hideously unpleasent, especially for a women on her own. And the media allows those sorts of jokes to be broadcast on prime time conedy shows.

  • Comment number 70.

    Of course there is a difference between black and white people, it is plain to see it is just the colour of skin. But there the difference ends.

    Unfortunately certain sections of our society have to keep reminding us, that the difference goes way beyond the colour of a persons skin.

    Ferdinands comment was related to skin colour and the persons actions and is nothing new, the term has been around in different forms for over a century.

    Ferdinand implied that there is far more of a difference than mere colour of skin, it basically refers to Cole and points out 'we know which side you have chosen' or 'you are a white man's, black man'

    There are no sides if we truly want racial harmony and Ferdinands comment is one of many from sections of our society who want to perpetuate the myth, that there is a difference between people.

    He should hang his head in shame,it is not the way forward, coming from an area with a massive influx of immigrants in the fifties and sixties. All people black and white and Asian wanted, was to get on with their lives, to work towards a better standard of living and enjoy life, as best they can. Yes there were problems but many were overcome by people setting an example.

    We will always have those who wish to perpetuate the myth of differences in races as being harmful to a society.

  • Comment number 71.

    I Don't like John Terry and I don't like Chelsea either b-u-t this is stuff that goes on during football matches every week, everyone knows that. The stupidity was to bring it to a criminal court which has just stirred the whole thing up and caused some short term pettiness. Football is no different to the rest of daily life in the country, you would be completely naieve to think that it doesn't go on. Yet in my lifetime it has become I feel less acceptable and less hateful -- in many other European countries it is worse than Britain in the 1960's.

  • Comment number 72.

    This should be an interesting programme as long as it doesn't descend into sensationalism.

    I think any form of racism should be punished to the highest possible punishment available. This is a given.

    However, I also think that verbal abuse that skulks under the banner of 'banter', i.e. people insulting John Terry on the pitch about his personal life, Evra insulting Surez's family is equally odious and should be equally punished.

    Is calling someone a black so-and-so different to calling someone a ginger so-and-so or a fat so-and-so??

  • Comment number 73.

    Black is an adjective, it is not an offensive word in itself. It is used in Black Professional Footballers Dinner/ Awards/Pageants/ Miss World etc. The offensive word is the noun. So if someone does/says something that makes the blood boil and a reply is deemed necessary, one looks at the person who has annoyed you and you accompany the offending noun with an appropriate adjective eg Fat, 4 eyed, ugly, bald, skinhead, skinny, ignorant/thick/stupid (for comments) and yes BLACK or WHITE if they are of different colour . Simple isn't it ....

  • Comment number 74.

    67. At 14:06 16th Jul 2012, smackeyes

    Only if they were good at being a lawyer.

    Anyway, I'm only a few years into this whole parent thing but seriously, if my child does something horrible because they follow a 'celebrity' I would put them on the straight and narrow myself, I wouldn't expect the 'celebrity' to be responsible for it.

    Yes, a grifter was hardly a bmx on the bulk front. Did have three gears though - if they ever worked properly!

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    61.At 13:59 16th Jul 2012, jdowling18 wrote:

    I heard the term "choc-ice" back in the 80´s. My friend ( who was black ) was called it by other black guys because he hung around with me and other white guys , we were friends we all worked together and used to out to the pub after work.
    My friend used to get very angry and upset when he got called it. Not sure if it is really a rascist term or just an insult ?
    But it is not the same as a white guy calling another white guy "ginger" that is for sure.

  • Comment number 77.

    #75 jat11

    I've got to say, I think your comments and arguments are all over the show!

    Maybe Asian's aspire to cricket rather than football?

    You seemed to have used the word FACT when the word OPINION would have been more accurate.

    The FA couldn't do anything about Terry before the judicial system did. And, on that subject, I doubt they can look at Terry alone now given that the findings in law.

    As far as wages go, you do not show an understanding of the free market.

    Just a few points. Could be more if I went into one.

  • Comment number 78.

    As post 42 has pointed out, almost every aspect of society seem to go out of their way to seperate themselves.

  • Comment number 79.


    Maybe we should have a fast-track system for an Asian England captain, or maybe for each premier league team? Why not, we seem to have in all other major professions.

    If you are suggesting that Asian kids are turned away from joining football teams or sports teams because of their skin colour you are completely deluded, if that happened once it would be front page news, the most important case for the local police and general hysteria akin to the John Terry farce.

    Get the chip off your shoulder and see past the big agenda...

  • Comment number 80.

    You can't really equate an insult based on race to an insult based on hair colour or whatever, and there are good reasons why you can be convicted for one and not the other. If you don't realise why this is the case you should look up the history of it, it's pretty obvious though.

  • Comment number 81.

    Timbo @68

    This is not condoning what goes on but the day one can walk into a Britsh court system and see Black judges and a proportional mix of Lawyers and barristers will be the day that the media and the legal system can condemn soccer from a position of not being hypocrites
    I am legally qualified, until retirement I worked at various levels involving social law.

    We have moved on, the legal profession, up to a level of a Barrister is indeed a mixed bag.

    The reason that we have yet to see the same groupings as you would like to call it, at the highest levels, is time. To achieve the status of a Silk or Judge takes time but it will happen sooner than later. In the case of Silks it is purely merit based and time served has little do with the appointment.

  • Comment number 82.

    jat, interesting point about Asians (descent) within the game however how much of this is down to racism and how much with culture and upbringing. The way the game is now the overall priority for many is money. Do you believe that owners would prioritise holding back players who may have gone on to make them millions?

  • Comment number 83.

    I think on the whole the author of this article has already answered his 'question'. He seems to be genuinely shocked about the kind of things his father was subjected to when he was a player which suggests that he himself has not, or at least not to the same degree. Therfore the answer is - Yes football is racist but not as bad as it was in the 70's and 80's.
    This in itself reflects society as a whole in my opinion. The biggest issue to come out of the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand saga is the amount of abuse, racist or otherwise, that so-called professional footballers subject each other to each and every game. The same can be said about supporters of football clubs. They will shout all kinds of unsavoury abuse at a particular opponent but then they stop if that same player joins their club and are given some kind of god-like status until they leave again.

    A previous poster suggested having referees wear a microphone so we can all hear what is being said. I recall a documentary some years ago where this happened while George Graham was in charge of Arsenal and the whole program was just basically a swear fest with the likes of Tony Adams screaming at the ref like a little girl. That, if nothing else, will mean that referees in football will not be heard like they are in other sports.

    I really don't have any answers on how to improve the game but then I'm pretty sure the FA/UEFA/FIFA don't either.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm always pretty astonished that someone like Terry would use language like that in this day and age. I must be quite naive I think, but I genuinely thought the days of racism in football were long gone.

    I do think however, that it shows that we haven't completely gone to the dogs by the furore that has been caused by this case, when 20 or 30 years ago it wouldn't even have warranted a notice in the sports press.

    And on top of that, Rio (last bastion of moral decency) Ferdinand would do well to keep his imbecilic comments to himself.

  • Comment number 85.

    Londoner in exile (70.)

    Great post! But one minor quibble.

    A person's skin colour IS indicative of a person's genetic (NOT touching that one!) and cultural heritiage. Therefore, to a very small extent, Rio is entitled to say "Well done Ashley! (with sarcasm) You've grown up as a black person in this country and you've chosen to do this?!" Similarly, there is a role for say, the Black Police Association or whatever, in pushing for equal oportunities and giving their community 'a voice'. That said, I think the MOBO awards is a very foolish concept t.b.h.

    But the flip is side is that they, and mainstream opinion, needs to acknowledge that this is NOT a colour-blind appraoch. Maybe eventually in 8544 AD when people are all coffee-coloured superbeings they'll look back at history and laugh about this 21st Century dilema

    But there will be no more blonde haired blue-eyed scandinavian types which as a man I'd have to say would be quite disappointing! But then that is life.....

  • Comment number 86.

    66. Suarez used a harmless word in the Uruguayan version of Spanish to Frenchman on the playing fields of England. But the high and mighty FA decided because the word he used in his own language could be translated into an offensive one in English it would be the perfect opportunity to score a point over Sepp Blatter who a few days before had caused absolute outrage on the tabloid sports pages and BBC Sport website by suggesting that things like that on a football pitch should be settled with a handshake. That had nothing to with our 'racism' IMO but everything to do with not getting the 2018 World Cup, a point enhanced when the same FA castigated Suarez for not shaking hands with the person who had caused him to miss 8 days of football - what a surprise that human nature still operates on common sense and not PC. I don't know anyone who had been stitched up like that who would openly have greeted the perpetrator with a handshake in front of 50000+ people and a watching world media, it would have been sheer hypocrisy on his part and an admission of guilt to what was a trumped-up charge of 'racism' IMO

  • Comment number 87.

    Truth is, people like Carlisle want Terry to be guilty to give themselves a platform. Although Terry was found not guilty in court, most of the comments by black pundits (e.g. Paul Elliot) just assume what he did was wrong anyway. Going on a witch hunt is more likely to make problems worse, like it did in the Suarez incident.

    Ferdinand laughing at that comment on twitter shows more deeply held racist views than anything Terry or Suarez are supposed to have said, although the silence about that from certain sections of the media is deafening. I'm really not sure what the FA are expected to do about all this childishness. And good on Ashley Cole for not kicking up a storm about the choc ice comment.

  • Comment number 88.


    Bungly Pete,

    I genuinely don't see the difference, and to just post go and have a look is not a very helpful comment. Someone being insulted for the colour of their skin is NO different to being insulted for the colour of your hair etc etc. Both should be punished.

  • Comment number 89.

    #84 derwaldmann - 22-01-2011

    Maybe you should read the judgement. The law is unable to be sure the context in which the words were used.

    Are you saying you DO know?

  • Comment number 90.

    Rather than read people advertising their ignorance on Twitter or relying on facts from all the mock lawyers around, can I recommend reading "Black and Blue: How Racism, Drugs and Cancer Almost Destroyed Me" by Paul Canoville? A sad but uplifting story about football, racism, society ...... everything that's being talked abut here.

  • Comment number 91.


    A fine comment, but it's built on your obvious capabilities as a parent. Unfortunately as society is showing, not all 'adults' are quite as capable parents.

    I see what you mean about celebrities not being roll models, but I still feel they impact on the weak minded in society, and could do more to help their cause. Seeing these 'professional' people and the way they behave makes me quite bilious to be honest.

  • Comment number 92.

    jb, I've said before I accept what Suarez said as not racist (intent wise) but that since it was very hard to prove intent I would have happily seen him get a long ban as a deterrant for others using similar language and using the same defence. I'd happily see Ferdinand get a ban for using choc ice as it is widely viewed as being about race even if Ferdinand claims he doesn't know that.

  • Comment number 93.

    The Terry case is open to everyone's interpretation now though. Whilst there wasn't enough evidence to prove he was being racist, there isn't enough to prove his defence either.

  • Comment number 94.

    @88 derwaldmann

    I can understand why you believe that to be the case, but as far as I'm aware, ginger people were never forced into slavery, bald people were never banned from taking a bus, and fat people were never sent into gas chambers. We have race laws to avoid these atrocities of the past.

    Perhaps you could argue we should take preventative measures to make sure that it never becomes the case with other personal traits.

  • Comment number 95.



    No I'm not saying that. I just think it was weird to see someone using those words. Even if he was doing what he says he was, i.e. mocking Ferdinand, it just doesn't add up. As I say, if it turned out Ferdinand wad insulting Terry, then he should be punished equally.

  • Comment number 96.

    Bungly Pete

    I think you need to look at that comment closely and think about the Burma rail roads.

  • Comment number 97.


    My least favourite moment in a sporting crowd was when a group of men sitting behind me helpfully informed me that I should have been "aborted before I was born" due to my hair colour. That was at an England match. I wouldn't expect that to be a criminal offence, that's absurd. But it's basically accepted as a perfectly fine comment, along with all manner of vile sexist and homophobic abuse at football matches.

    My point is that as long as we pretend that such forms of abuse are all fine and dandy and just "banter" we will never get anywhere, not with racism or anything else. Nobody seemed to care that Terry's alleged comment included a misogynist slur along with a racial one. If you pretend that it's okay to have less than zero respect for other human beings, and that it's fine to vocalise your vile thoughts about them provided you avoid a few key words that would then make it a criminal offence, then we have learned nothing.

  • Comment number 98.

    Is football in England racist - Possibly.

    Is it Xenophobic across all levels of the game, the media, the FA? - Definitely.

    @85 - Couldn't agree more.

  • Comment number 99.



    I understand the historical connotations of the phrase, but if we start singling out a particular word over others, we will never get anywhere.

    It was a difficult one for the courts I feel. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he hadn't used the c word after he called him black.

  • Comment number 100.

    #94 Bungly Pete

    Good examples, but that is only half the story. What if a ginger person took great offence at what was said to them? Shouldn't there be some sort of protection on offer? Or is there?


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