Wednesday, January 27, 2021

OPINION: Time for harsher racism punishment

This evening, we watched on as Chelsea visited bitter rivals Tottenham in the Premier League. The game was going well on the pitch, but for the second time in a matter of weeks, racism reared its ugly head in the Premier League.

The game seemed to be going off without a hitch in North London but with the home side two goals down, tensions started to boil over as the game went on. Just after the hour mark, South Korean star Son Heung-Min was red carded as he petulantly kicked out at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.

The red card was awarded, but then Rudiger seemingly made a gesture toward the referee insinuating he believed he had been racially abused by a member of the crowd. The referee then correctly initiated the new UEFA three step protocol and went to inform the Spurs stadium authorities of the situation.

While all that was going on, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was standing in his goal area, and was pelted with missiles from the Spurs fans behind the goal. Shortly after, an announcement went up around the stadium reminding the Spurs fans that racism will not be tolerated.

How, in all that is holy, are we still dealing with this week in, week out in the top tier of English football? A year ago, Raheem Sterling was racially abused at Stamford Bridge – there was a huge inquiry and it looked as though things were changing. Yet, here we sit 12 months later talking about the exact same thing – and the Football Association have done nothing to stop it from happening.

When this happened last year, Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling demanded that there be harsher punishments. He suggested maybe even considering bringing in a system where a team will be deducted points – which I am all for. Instead, the FA have opted to stick with their original methods of dishing out a measly fine and issuing a ban to the offender.

Racism needs kicking out of football fast

Lets be honest, that “punishment” is utter rubbish. When this sort of thing happened to our England boys out in Bulgaria a few weeks back, the whole country was rightly up in arms, demanding harsher sanctions from UEFA. That included the FA – as they pushed and pushed for the European footballing body to do more.

How on Earth can we sit there and criticise UEFA and Bulgaria for failing to deal with racism properly when we can’t even get a grip on our own game? This isn’t even the first incident this month, as Manchester United midfielder Fred was racially abused at the Etihad in the Manchester derby earlier this month. What has been done about it? We had the obligatory “we are appalled” statement from the clubs and then nothing.

It’s about time the Football Association step up to the plate and put in place a very harsh sanction. As we have heard time and again, this is not just a football issue, it’s a societal issue. These people claim to be “fans” of their club, and if they really are fans, the best way to punish them is to punish their clubs.

Logic dictates that if you know your entire club will be punished if commit a racist act, you’ll think twice before doing it. I suggest a points deduction of at least five points, as well as hefty fine that will actually make a difference to the club that has to pay it. None of this £7k rubbish – I’m talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

The money from those fines should go to an anti-racism charity – something like the Show Racism the Red Card charity, so we can work on stamping this issue out from the ground floor. It’s about time the footballing authorities in this country stop being all talk and get on with actually implementing a solution to this issue in football.

What do you think, what should the FA do to stop racism?

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