THE SUPPORTER arrested for alleged racial abuse directed at Oldham’s Tom Adeyemi won’t be charged, it has been confirmed today.
I went to Elland Road in the immediate aftermath of Fowler being sold to Leeds United by Gerard Houllier. First game there, a headcase sits near us and spends the entire game ranting about Fowler. He hated Robbie. He had the sort of massive axe you only see in rubbish like Game Of Thrones to grind against him. Everyone is giving the “get-on-this-mad-bastard” eyes that you get. The headcase screams at the top of his voice “fuck off Fowler, you Blue bastard.” Leeds stewards wade in and drag him out for racist abuse, their brains translating this nonsense as “black” rather than “blue”. A couple of police get involved. Three or four of us explained that this headcase is a headcase but he isn’t being racist. We talked them through his addled mind, that Fowler was an Evertonian growing up, and seemingly, this is the one man in the world who will never forgive him for it. They couldn’t get their heads around it – neither could we, really – but finally they let the headcase back to his seat.
Last week on the podcast I argued with Ollie Holt that his commentary condemnation of the Adeyemi incident at the time was a bit of a leap – it was too quick. I maintain that, but conversely am immediately reminded that Earl Jenkins told us on an earlier podcast of a young black Liverpudlian feeling intimidated at an away game after a couple of shouts that were offensive. Mike Girling said, on the same podcast, that the incidents/coverage had, as far as he’s concerned, given cover to people who harbour racist views to feel a little freer to air them. To be brutally honest, “We’re not racist, we only hate Mancs” is a little edgy for my liberal, limp-wristed tastes. Should we really be adding reference this entire imbroglio into our canon? Can’t the infamous line be drawn beneath?
There is a question that arises out of all this, though, about responsibility – about where that feeling of cover comes from. Liverpool haven’t wanted to be seen as a racist club. They have attempted, undoubtedly cack-handedly, to stand by their player whom they believe to be innocent. They have, however, been relentlessly lambasted as such by a media that has been too desperate and too quick for the story, and a commentariat too eager for to generate headlines and hits, too speedy to sling its opinion around on social media. This same media and commentariat hasn’t come near to even attempting holding to account a report or process that should be open for question, that’s ripe for change – arguably unfit for purpose. The climate in which Adeyemi hears what he believes was racial abuse is as whipped up by a media in dire need of perpetual scandal as it is mishandled by Liverpool.
But, and this is crucial, the climate in which Earl Jenkins reports intimidating shouts is one where dickheads believe their dickheaditudes are now quasi-accepted by the club/wider support. It is something which may be reinforced by slack, speedy and aggressive reportage, but it is down to us first and foremost to address. But, as the arrest records show, Liverpool are in no way unique. This permeates football at all levels, in all grounds. To very loosely paraphrase – we all, in essence, know what a minority of us are.
The football club, all football clubs, Liverpool’s footballers, all footballers, have a lot of work to do on racism. This should surely go without saying as society as a whole has even more work to do. Ian Herbert points both out at the foot of this article, referring both to Suarez and to the Guardian’s story about unemployment amongst young black men.
If it doesn’t go without saying, then despite this lad being innocent against Oldham (and I can only imagine he’s had a nightmare few weeks) we’re deluding ourselves if we think everyone is only ever shouting “blue bastard.” However what needs to be remembered by reporters and commentators is that they are deluding themselves if they believe it is only an issue in one ground. They created a feeding frenzy and feeding frenzies help no one. They shine no light and force people onto the defensive. If Liverpool supporters, if journalists, politicians, ex-players sincerely want to eradicate racism from football, from society (and I believe that all do sincerely want that) then calm heads and open discussion will help a lot more than finger pointing and carping at one hundred miles an hour.
Oliver Holt is a shit and no friend of this club…will his gutter rag be running an apology on the Adeyemi non story ( yep there’s a racist under every bed if you want your Warhol 15 mins ,Tom) I doubt it
Commentariat is a great word.
From what we have seen over the past few months then `calm heads and open discussion` is the last item on the agenda when it involves racism or any other provocative story. As you pointed out last week their is no such thing as a match report anymore, well, not on a Monday, only comment pieces and the `i am wittier than thou` competition.
Spin doctors can spout whatever garbage they like about new media being the death of newspapers, but in reality it is the lack of proper journalism that puts many people off. Yes newspapers compete with Sky news and live football matches but not everybody in the world sits down with 27 satelite dishes and watches a Boca Junior reserve match. However, if i could buy a newspaper and a jounalist had watched an obsure game and a new player had emerged as `one to watch` then that would be intresting.
When Italian football came on the telly with Ch.4, James Richardson told us all the important things that happened during the week and the intresting articles in della sport. As was pointed out in last weeks pod, when it comes to cricket analysis and commentry Sky is top, when it comes to football we have the Sunday supplement and its polit bureau of pontious pilate`s pontificating on rumour, gossip and personal publicity, all of which is then regurgitated by Kee`s and Gray the following day as fact.
Its not that there cannot be a serious debate on important issues it is more that when it comes to football reporting the media concerned choose not to, Olly Holt talked around this subject all last week without denying it, when it comes to current football journalism, scandle trumps facts on most occasions and serious subjects are paid lip service or not depending on whether you are ghosting the player in questions next monotombe.
Suarez and Liverpool were Jonny no mates, and we were easily hung out to dry, we don`t kiss arse very well, and our sandwitches are not what they are at the emirates or Old Trafford.
Have to take issue with this. Game of Thrones is not rubbish.
What an utter load of nonsense! Game of Thrones is excellent.
The rest I pretty much agree with.
Good piece but Game of Thrones is anything but rubbish!
West Ham away a few years ago – Owen’s 100th goal. Some twat behind me is singing Bin Laden songs because my Asian mate is there (Muslim, long beard). I’ve had enough but don’t want to give this moron the fight he’s waiting for so I head down to the stewards and relate some of the shite we’ve all been subjected to. His response?
‘Yeah, but is he bothering anyone?’
‘Well, he’s breaking the law.’
Half an hour later the stewards come to stand by us. The dolt shuts up. They shrug and go back to their places. He starts up again. Pleasingly he leaves before the equaliser.
This is a rare instance hopefully but I felt intimidated for my mate (he wasn’t arsed but there’s no way he should be subjected to that). What was interested is that there were ‘Kick Racism’ boards all over the ground and the merest of lip service was paid to the strongest example of what that noble cause fights. Where was the zero tolerance policy then? We’ve put a sign up. Carry on.
As for Troutbeck’s post I’ve always thought that the best thing about cricket commentary was that I don’t know enough about the game so these people tell me about field placings, the importance of the new ball etc and educate the viewer. The same’s true for cricket journalism to a large extent. People like Barclay and Holt do the exact opposite. Speculation isn’t journalism. It’s a conduit to their opinions being taken as news.
It is pretty unbelievable how a few mad seconds on a pitch has escalated – irrespective of what ‘really’ happened.
If the result wasn’t so tragic, the collective hypocrisy over this would be farcical – its a real shame the Southpark team aren’t UK based…