1287: Racism: Kick Spanish clubs out
by : Colin Illingworth
Football’s anti-racism campaign, Kick It Out, is calling on UEFA and FIFA to take far-reaching action against the Spanish Football Association to ensure that Wednesday night’s racial abuse that shocked football fans in this country is effectively dealt with in Spanish football.
Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright Phillips were subjected to a barrage of monkey chants every time they went near the ball and the campaign insist that the extent and level of racist chanting was unprecedented at an international match in recent times and believe that it would have been warranted the match being stopped by the referee or the England players walking off.
Spanish coach Luis Aragones began the race debate last month after being caught on television slagging off the Arsenal and French striker Thierry Henry telling his Arsenal colleague Jose Antonio Reyes that Henry was ‘a black piece of ****’ and many are blaming the Spanish FA for failing to deal with him and raising tensions before the clash.
“We believe that the Spanish FA’s inept dealing of the remarks made by national coach Luis Aragones have contributed to the events of Wednesday,” said Piara Powar, director of Kick It Out.
“Spain is the third largest commercial footballing market in Europe but the Spanish footballing authorities, the media and many of their fans didn’t even see the problem apparent last night. Aragones’ comments show us how far they and other major footballing nations in Europe need to go in working with our partners in the Football Against Racism in Europe network to ensure incidents such as last night do not occur again.”
Kick It Out, formed in 1993, are calling for Spanish participation in European footballing competitions to be suspended until the Spanish Football Association can satisfy Europe’s governing bodies that they are taking the problem of racism seriously.
“Unless the will to drive change is shown by the Spanish Football Association, UEFA and FIFA need to take unprecedented measures, which should include a suspension of all Spanish activity in European football and a commission lead by UEFA to put in place anti racism measures. This is not a cycle of events to be dealt with simply by a fine and a slap of the wrist.”
Kick It Out observers and colleagues from Spanish NGO, CERCRA, were at the game and will be sending witness statements to UEFA and FIFA, supplementing any reports made by the Football Association.
British football has moved a long way since racism blighted the English game in the 70’s and 80’s and the events at the Bernabeu has put the clock back twenty years.
“English football can rightly be proud of the work we’ve done in tackling racism of the kind that was experienced on Wednesday,” says Piara Powar. “Despite problems that remain, particularly in areas of under-representation and exclusion, we’ve made significant progress in increasing education and understanding of the impact that monkey chanting, and other forms of abuse, can have on individual players and the communities from which they come.”
UEFA must take a tough line on this issue now or face the beautiful game being dragged back into the dark ages.