Les Ferdinand speaks out and says clubs should be banned if racism problem persists
Time marches on and I still can’t quite believe that it is 22 years since Les Ferdinand left Newcastle United.
One of my all-time favourite NUFC players, the same as many other fans.
The two seasons he spent at St James Park, only Man Utd finished higher in the table.
Time hasn’t marched on quite so much for Les Ferdinand though, at least when it comes to racism in football.
Whilst in many ways things have improved in this country compared to what was the case in the 70s and 80s, there have still been a number of incidents involving the likes of Chelsea fans this season.
Les Ferdinand though sees it as still a massive problem away from on the pitch in the UK, pointing to the low numbers of black people in the ‘industries around football’ as well as a lack of diversity in management and in the boardroom. In terms of industries around football, Ferdinand points to in particular the low/no numbers of black presenters on Sky and Talksport.
Whilst there are still obviously racist people following Newcastle United, as it reflects society in general, my impression is that it is a very low number of people, and they are generally kept in check at matches because they are aware that the vast majority of supporters would find any racist behaviour completely unacceptable.
I know and speak to a lot of Newcastle fans and just like not having a problem with what colour/race/religion/background a player comes from. I would be amazed if any/many had remotely any negative thoughts if the next NUFC owner, CEO, or Manager was black.
The main headlines in recent times have generally arisen when the English national side, or English club sides, have experienced widescale racism when playing in other countries.
Les Ferdinand says that the answer is simply to ban/kick them out of competition, to draw a line in the sand to force them to take the issues seriously.
We are lucky in the north east to have the likes of Tyneside born and bred charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) doing such great work, especially in schools, catching the fans of tomorrow early and ensuring they have the facts and are educated on the issues involved.
Les Ferdinand speaking to Yahoo Sport UK:
“The people in charge, the FA, UEFA, FIFA, because they have never been racially abused, they don’t understand it, so they pay lip service to it.
“The problem you have is that people don’t understand racism.
“They say football is racist because there’s a lack of diversity in management, in the boardroom, but then I look at all the industries that run alongside football.
“Look at the media.
“You never see black presenters on any of the main Sky shows. I listen to Talksport and all these radio shows. There’s no black presenters there.
“Everyone focuses on football itself. But the industries around football; nothing has changed.
“I have got black parents, I have got black sisters, I have got black uncles and aunts who want to come and watch me play football,
“They won’t feel safe in that environment. Why should they come into a football stadium and not feel safe?
“If you really want to eradicate this problem in football, rather than looking at fines or playing games behind closed doors, just kick them out of the competition, kick them out right now.
“If people in the Champions League or whatever competition get kicked out, you’ll see it eradicated from stadiums.
“Many years ago, we were seen as some of the biggest hooligans in Europe. So what happened? We were banned from European competition.”
“When our fans went back into Europe we knew how to behave ourselves because we didn’t want to be banned again.”
To sum up how think/backward some people still are, Les Ferdinand highlighted the recent controversy involving former Sky pundit Gordon Strachan.
Strachan equated racist abuse of black players, with potential abuse by fans of disgraced sex offender Adam Johnson if he ever steps onto a football pitch again:
“I sat there and I thought about it.
“Wherever you are in the world, I don’t care what country you come from, pedophilia is seen as a crime and that’s what he got done for.
“By equating that to black people being abused, you’re saying being black is a crime.
“People have been killed because they were black. So you can’t equate the same and, unfortunately, it is a lack of education that allows people to talk like that.”
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