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Les Ferdinand talks about racism at St James Park

2 years ago

Les Ferdinand has been talking about racism in football.

The QPR Director of Football revealing that he has even experienced racist abuse from fans of his own club, whilst in his current role.

Quite astonishing that there are people like that, not just the racism, but the added fact they would do it to someone who is a club legend.

Les Ferdinand says that football simply reflects society and that 100% there are racist fans who support QPR.

Whilst talking about racism in football in general and QPR in particular, Newcastle United and St James Park also come into the discussion for Sir Les.

Les Ferdinand comments: ‘I remember John Barnes playing at St James’ Park in the 1980s and at half-time they took three bags of bananas off the pitch.’

There is no doubt Newcastle United had a problem back in the 1980s, as did pretty much every single major club back then. I can remember bananas thrown from the terraces in certain matches but the ‘three bags’ might be a bit of an exaggeration, though of course even a single banana is one too many and simply embarrassing.

For those of us around then, it is quite incredible to think of  what went on and the songs that were sung, but thankfully we can look back as Newcastle fans and say they were very different times.

As Les Ferdinand says, racism is still rife in society and racists will still be there at St James Park in 2020.

The big difference now I think is that for them to open their mouth, it would prompt a very different reaction to what would have happened back in the 80s and beyond. Back then people would have simply joined in, these days, there is every chance that any overt racism would be reported and the police involved.

The work of Tyneside based SRtRC (Show Racism the Red Card) can’t be overestimated, along with other organisations, educating people, especially children.

Les Ferdinand goes on to say: ‘I played at Newcastle in the 1990s and was accepted because I scored goals.’

As it reads, I can’t really agree with that completely.

The suggestion, or the way it comes across anyway, is that if Les Ferdinand hadn’t been such a massive success, he wouldn’t have been accepted and potentially open to racist abuse.

For me, by the time Sir Les arrived in 1995, St James Park had gone through massive changes in terms of how fans behaved and what was acceptable, as well as for most, how they thought.

Les Ferdinand was idolised by Newcastle fans because of what he did at the club both on and off the pitch, I would confidently say he would have been ‘accepted’ regardless, certainly not openly subjected to racist abuse just because he wasn’t scoring goals.

It says everything that these days a lot of the racist behaviour from supposed fans, comes via social media, many people trying to be anonymous because they know it won’t be tolerated by the vast majority.

Fast forwarding to the current Newcastle United team and we have a £40m Brazilian striker with one goal in 25 Premier League appearances. He might have been called a lot of things in these past six months but personally, none of what I have heard was racist.

Joelinton has been ‘accepted’ regardless of what he has shown on the pitch, if he starts scoring regularly then he will be idolised just like players such as Andy Cole and Les Ferdinand, or indeed Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba to a lesser extent in recent years.

Les Ferdinand talking to the Evening Standard:

“I’ve experienced it from my own supporters here, but I understand.

“People keep talking about it being a football problem, but we’ve seen it now affecting the Royal Family.

“We saw it discussed at the BAFTAs the other day.

“It was accepted in football.

“I remember John Barnes playing at St James’ Park in the 1980s and at half-time they took three bags of bananas off the pitch.

“We’re now saying it is not acceptable but football has always been an arena where people could get away with it en masse.

“I played at Newcastle in the 1990s and was accepted because I scored goals.

“I grew up in the middle of west London.

“This is a multicultural club but are you saying to me there are no racist people who support QPR?

“One hundred per cent there are.

“Football reflects society. I know that. It is a fact of life.”


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