FA chairman Greg Clarke resigned yesterday after facing criticism for using the world “coloured” while referring to BAME players. The incident took place in front of MPs who are part of the British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee (DCMS). Clarke was answering questions related to social media backlash players face if they are openly gay.
It was a slip of the tongue, Clarke had justified, while apologising for the inadvertent reference. However, it did have racist undertones. The justification he made while apologising, weirdly enough, could also be interpreted as having racist undertones.
When questioned by the committee about the possibility of a social media backlash for gay footballers ‘coming out’, Clarke replied saying how social media is a free-for-all arena. While explaining that, he referred to BAME players as ‘coloured footballers’.
Also Read | Lack of Investment in Women’s Game Disgraceful: Megan Rapinoe
“If I look at what happens to high-profile female footballers, to high-profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they take on social media....social media is a free-for-all,” he said.
DCMS member and MP Kevin Brennan promptly pulled up Clarke and asked for an explanation on the usage of the phrase. Clarke apologised immediately.
“If I said it I deeply regret it,” he said. “I am a product of working overseas, where I was required to use the phrase people of colour. Sometimes I trip over my words.”
Of course he might have indeed not used it with racist intent. But then casual racism -- thrown about everywhere -- operates hiding behind this very justification. That it was not deliberate, that it was a slip of the tongue. And this has seeped into every walk of life, even journalism. And, when confronted or pointed out, motive and intent are cited while brushing aside any form of action for casually throwing about racist phrases.
Clarke had quite an off day in front of the committee, it seems. He had earlier, in effect, indulged what could be interpreted as racial stereotyping while talking about diversity in football.
He said South Asians and Afro-Caribbeans had “different career interests”.
“BAME communities are not an amorphous mass,” he said. “If you look at top level football the Afro-Caribbean community is over-represented compared to the South Asian community. If you go to the IT department of the FA there’s a lot more South Asians than there are Afro-Caribbeans. They have different career interests.”
While the FA tried to put its weight behind the chairman, the heat perhaps was too much for Clarke to handle. He resigned hours after the debacle saying he "put the interests of football first" when making the decision to quit. He apologised again for his comments. However, his decision to resign must be appreciated, for it showed a genuine sense of taking responsibility for one's actions, something rare in these times.
Police Raid Offices of Benfica, Sporting Lisbon
Portugese police raided the offices of Benfica, Sporting and Santa Clara as part of a corruption and money laundering investigation linked to player transfers.
The Portuguese general prosecutor’s office said nearly 30 searches were carried out by the Judicial Police and the Tax Authority under the direction of the Public Ministry. All three clubs confirmed the searches.
Sporting’s statement revealed that the investigation is related to alleged irregularities from 2011-14 and congratulated the efforts to promote transparency in Portuguese football. Prosecutors said they were investigating “a range of cases, all linked to professional football, which could include crimes of economic participation in business or undue receipt of advantage, active and passive corruption, qualified tax fraud and money laundering”.
Also Read | Lakshya Sen Flouted Covid-19 Protocol: Ajay Jayaram Opens Up About Tournament Exit and Quarantine in Germany
According to reports by Portuguese broadcasters TVI, Benfica President Luís Filipe Vieira is the main target of the authorities. Vieira, a real estate businessman was re-elected president of the 37-times Portuguese champions last month, extending his 17-year reign. The 71-year-old is already facing a corruption trial alongside 16 other people, including three judges, in the country. He was also indicted in a tax fraud investigation targeting Benfica, who have also been implicated in match-fixing.
Prosecutors are also focusing their investigation on the transfer of three Libyan players who signed for Santa Clara.
Thiago Silva Opens Up on Head Injuries
Brazilian defender Thiago Silva, who is looking to extend his contract with Chelsea FC, revealed he suffers from headaches due to the aerial battles he is forced into while playing in the Premier League.
The 36-year-old Silva, who joined Chelsea on a free transfer in August, has helped the Blues avoid defeat in his first eight games in all competitions. The centre back’s presence helped Chelsea climb to fifth in the Premier League.
"In the English championship, the last two games I ended up with a lot of headaches because there are aerial plays at all times and, with a very high pace of play, it is very different from the other two leagues (Serie A and Ligue 1),” said Silva. "I have learned from all that and I put it into practice to help the younger players."
Also Read | FIFA Plans to Launch New ‘Cap' and Rules for Agents as Early as January
Silva has contested five aerial duels in his last two Premier League matches, against Sheffield United and Burnley. The Brazilian has won eight of his 15 aerial duels this season.
"This is my first experience in the Premier League but I hope to continue doing well and to have a contract renewal as well," he added.
Silva’s statement, however, is a serious issue in football. Injuries, due to headers, are a menace. The reason why there has been a ban on using headers for training kids in the UK. Silva, much like most of the professional players, seem to not understand the serious implications of head injuries later in their life.
‘No blank cheque for EFL Clubs’
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told British MPs there will be no "blank cheque" for cash-strapped English Football League (EFL) clubs from the top league of the country.
The Premier League has offered £50m to Leagues One and Two (the third and fourth tier) — £30m of that amount as loans — but agreement with second-tier Championship clubs has been a sticking point.
Stadium lockouts due to the Covid-19 pandemic has seen Premier League clubs lose around £700m in revenue. Their lucrative broadcasting deals mean they have not felt the impact as deeply though — illustrated by a £1 billion spent by them in the transfer window.
Also Read | ATK Mohun Bagan Fan Uprising: A Battle Won Online, the Plot Lost at the Maidan
Clubs down the pyramid are more reliant on match day revenue and according to the chairman of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee,Julian Knight, are struggling to meet the payroll.
Masters insisted the Premier League was there to help but not blindly and without restrictions. "The Premier League has engaged and wants to seek resolution but there can't be a blank cheque or an underwriting of losses," he told British MPs.
"I don't think our proposals are pitiful. We can make money available now to clubs that need it and we can work with the EFL to ensure that funds are going to the right places to ensure clubs don't suffer distress," he said.
Masters also confirmed that the Premier League's strategic review would be completed by March, a situation that has become very urgent after information about the proposed ‘Project Big Picture’ was leaked last month.
Project Big Picture was a plan hatched by the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United, and backed by EFL chairman Rick Parry, which proposed radical changes to the structure and financial re-distribution of the English game. It was rejected by Premier League clubs after a meeting of the 20 members last month.
Maradona’s Health Update
Diego Maradona is recovering well from a brain operation and post-surgery complications, his personal physician confirmed. He is likely to get discharged over the next couple of days.
“Diego wants to go home and we are evaluating his discharge,” Leopoldo Luque told reporters outside the hospital where Maradona was operated on last week. He was suffering from a subdural haematoma, a blood clot on the brain.
“We’ll talk about where he goes later but for now we know that Diego is doing very well,” added Luque, who said he will likely be allowed to go home “tomorrow or the next day.”
The former World Cup winner, who played for FC Barcelona, Napoli and Boca Juniors in his club career, was kept in the hospital through the weekend. He was also suffering from withdrawal symptoms due to alcohol dependency.
Read more sports stories from Newsclick