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I’M NOT here to discuss Raheem Sterling being racially abused. We saw it happen, there is no alleging, it happened.
What I want to discuss is what the media and players can do over the next few weeks, months and years to try to eradicate racism from football, mention the journalists who are raising awareness of sexism and racism in the media and how the industry can have better representation in terms of women and ethnic minorities.
I was genuinely angry seeing the reaction to, and excuses for, the racism Sterling received.
Those trying to say the fan called him a “Manc cunt” instead of a “black cunt” are not only ignorant but deluded.
How people can honestly believe that the media played no role in what was said is beyond me.
They did. They know they did. And trying to switch sides after the fact is embarrassing.
What also left me furious, and the main reason why I am penning this column, is that there were people saying the media only discusses racism or sexism in sport after incidents.
That is a lie.
There are so many journalists, many I can consider friends, who use their platform or social media to raise awareness on various important topics.
Natasha Henry has been calling out sexism in the media industry for years. Every time a newspaper writes a sports story about a footballer’s partner in the sports section, she tweets about it with the hashtag #StillNotSport.
Richard Amafa, Andrew Bontif, Greg Johnson, Muhammed Butt and countless other journalists will speak out whenever there’s a story about an ethnic minority player that has nothing to do with their profession.
Butt is excellent in pointing out that pundits and commentators refer to Mohamed Salah as “Mo.”
Why is it so hard to say his name? By shortening it to Mo, it makes the name less Islamic. He calls it everyday Islamophobia and he has a point.
The negative Sterling headlines have been slammed for years on social media. Only now is it being discussed on air.
And only now are black journalists being asked to speak on the radio and on television about it.
Darren Lewis will be on the radio or the news nearly every weekend, talking about football. No-one tunes in to listen.
But whenever the issue of racism is brought up in football, be it a player abused or a black manager sacked, he is the first journalist Sky, talkSport, the BBC etc phone.
Why aren’t they asking him to discuss transfer gossip and other stories?
Kick It Out does great work 365 days a year, but when are they on TV? Only when a player gets racially abused.
That’s when they deem it necessary to ask Troy Townsend for his opinion. This is perfectly valid, but you can ask him to come on during other weeks to discuss the work the organisation is doing.
Ryan Conway has been writing about sport for years now. Never have I seen him offered the opportunity by other media outlets to come on their platforms to discuss sport.
On Sunday, he was asked to go on not only the BBC but Sky News to discuss the Sterling case.
Why was he not asked to go on in previous weeks to discuss anything else related to football?
He is also extremely knowledgeable about American Football, so he’s not a one trick pony.
Will they ask him again next week to discuss the fallout of Liverpool v Manchester United? Or even the fallout of week 15 in the NFL. I doubt it.
The fact is certain media outlets only want to hear from black journalists when it involves a black person in the news.
That is why we are “piping up” now, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t talking about the issue the rest of the year.
Journalists of all colours and genders gathered together over the summer at the request of Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS) to talk about the lack of diversity in the media.
The D Word has been going on for years now because a group of journalists decided enough is enough and the issue needs to be on the top of the agenda.
I was on a podcast last week discussing the treatment of Sterling in the media. This was days before he was racially abused by the Chelsea fan.
I wrote a column at the start of January about the racist abuse Sterling receives and the language the media uses when talking about black players.
Come the end of the year, everyone else is making the same points. So how dare Touchline Fracas accuse me and my colleagues of only bringing up the topic now.
In fact, they need to take a long hard look in the mirror. They are just as guilty as the rest of the media which spent large portions of their shows on Sunday and Monday discussing racism in the industry and sport.
Had it not happened, would they have spent a millisecond talking about it?
For Touchline Fracas to call Rio Ferdinand a racial slur is pathetic. It was done purely for effect, to get his attention and have him respond. Touchline Fracas would then apologise and ask him to come on the show to give themselves some credibility.
It’s exactly what Piers Morgan does.
Given that Stan Collymore has since praised the podcast for what they said only strengthens my belief that the plan was to try and gain notoriety by being so outspoken.
Had Ferdinand been in that room, would they have called him a “dancing coon?” Or would they have lauded him for his playing style and asked for selfies?
Don’t get me wrong, Touchline Fracas and podcasts like them are needed. They offer fans the chance to listen to people just like them, young men and women who use the same terms as they do when discussing footballers.
They provide ethnic minority supporters a platform to air their views in ways the mainstream media podcasts don’t.
However, the market has become so saturated that, to get yourself noticed, you need to be edgy.
And it’s why you get clips like the one doing the rounds on social media on Monday evening and people replying saying these people are being real and speaking the truth.
I wholeheartedly disagree with those opinions.
As for Chelsea fans. You can condemn the racist supporter all you want. But every time you call John Terry “captain, leader, legend,” understand you are complicit in what happened at Stamford Bridge.
Terry was accused of calling Anton Ferdinand the exact same thing that the fan called Sterling. Why is one vilified and the other heralded?
The supporter may be an idiot, but he’s only doing what your former captain did.
And where do other professional players stand in this? There is so much more they can be doing to combat racism.
They may feel it isn’t their jobs, that they are only there to play football. But now more than ever do they need to stand up and be counted.
Look at the conversations Colin Kaepernick has started in the US by kneeling during the national anthem.
Next time black footballers step out onto the pitch, stay in the changing rooms and come out just before kick-off. Or line up on the touchline instead of in the middle of the pitch.
That will immediately keep the topic of racism in the headlines. When they score, don’t celebrate. Jog back to the centre circle and keep on playing.
After the game give interviews to any journalist that wants to listen and speak about the racism they have received during the week on the field or on social media.
A few players have clothing brands. Release a line that openly challenges racism like Kaepernick has.
Heck, buy his T-shirts and wear them through the mix zone. Sterling giving interviews in a #IStandWithKap T-shirt would be truly breathtaking.
NFL players are supporting their friend, footballers need to do the same. Messages of solidarity on social media aren’t enough.
This is where the media steps in. It’s no secret that the industry needs to reflect society and at the moment it doesn’t.
I am often the only black journalist in a football press box. Quite often there is only one woman, if that.
On sports, and news desks across the country, black journalists and women are still underrepresented. Only once you get their voice in the room will we start to see the racist headlines disappear or at least be challenged.
When ethnic minorities have stepped away and created their own platforms, some deem that racist.
Jordan Bryan has set up his own YouTube channel called Blackademik to discuss important topics, such as “Are black people represented fairly in TV,” and “How will Brexit affect black people?”
We have The Voice newspaper, which has Rodney Hinds as the sports editor.
Which leads me to my final point. While the rest of the media continues to ask why we don’t have a black sports editor in this country, I see it as an insult to both myself and to Rodney.
Why do people refuse to acknowledge us?
We recently saw people asking why are there no black sports editors in the “mainstream” media.
Once again, the finishing line has been moved for ethnic minorities, just as we thought we had finished.
And people wonder why Sterling was racially abused on Saturday.
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