‘It’s just banter.’

Picture the scene.

You’re at the ground of your team of choice. You’re down 1-0. You’re still in it. Everything to play for. Then your defender scores a shocker of an own goal and there’s only five minutes to go. You’ve had a few drinks so you’re a bit lairy. What is acceptable for you to say?

Trust me when I say I know all about the passion that comes with being a football fan. How it cuts through you when your team aren’t looking good. How you can easily shout obscenities (guilty) and let things come out of your mouth without thinking. All fans will feel that angry passion at times. Whether it’s at your own player, the other team’s, your mate who supports a rival team; we all feel it sometimes. You say things you probably wouldn’t say any other time. Banter we call it. Nothing wrong with a few harsh words so long as it’s banter. Right? Wrong.

There’s a line not to cross. It doesn’t matter how angry you are. Or how much you love your team. Once you go too far it isn’t ‘just banter.’ Now I’m no softy and call me most names I won’t even bat my eyelashes. But there’s one thing that is never ever acceptable in football and in all of our lives. Racism.

Let me tell you something now. This is not by any means ‘a laugh’, ‘the drink talking’ or ‘banter.’ This is disgusting behaviour and no human being should experience it. The colour of someone’s skin does not in any way determine the person they are and it definitely does not give you the right to call them horrendous names.

This includes some footballers by the way. I won’t mention any names (use your imagination) but to be openly racist whilst being filmed, watched around the world and most importantly looked up to by children is setting the worst possible example. You’re a role model. You’re adored. Why would you want to use your status in this way? Why? If one child watches and thinks that’s acceptable then says something similar then, in my opinion, you have disgraced your position.

When I seen the video of the fans not allowing the black man on the train in Paris it broke my heart. I hope they are in the minority but it’s not the point. To treat somebody like that because of their skin colour is disgusting. He has a life too. A family. He is just the same as you. Just imagine his mother having to watch that and seeing her son being humiliated. Would you like your mother to see you being treated like that? No.

We are all human beings. We are better than this. So please, I’m asking all fans and players alike. Think before you speak. Get angry. Scream at the top of your lungs if you must. But please think before you speak. Racism is never acceptable. And it is certainly not banter. Football is a beautiful game. Let’s not allow something so ugly to ruin that.

Give racism the red card once and for all.say-no-to-racism-in-football-3

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