One rule for all is enough to burst football’s bubble

Flashpoint: The Ferdinand-Terry incident in last week's game
Flashpoint: The Ferdinand-Terry incident in last week's game
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Considering releasing a statement?

After a week Anton Ferdinand was last night thinking of saying something on the alleged racist comments made to him by England captain John Terry in the game between QPR and Chelsea.

Ferdinand is right to take his time. He has John Terry’s future in his hands.

What Ferdinand says next will have huge repercussions throught the game and throughout the country.

Terry’s comments are ‘alleged’ because nothing is proven but anyone who has seen the Youtube footage of John Terry in full flow doesn’t need confirmation that he was using racist language.

He insisted he actually said: “No, I didn’t call you a “****** black ****” after Ferdinand asked if he had used the offensive words.

This is, of course, entirely possible, though Ferdinand is reported to have said that such an exchange never took place.

But it shouldn’t be down to Ferdinand, evidence of the use of racist language is there for all to see.

We know it’s a man’s game, full of wind-ups and hard-line mickey-taking but, no matter what the context, football rules and the law of the land have been broken.

More than a week after it occurred the FA and the Premier league have remained, up to last night, silent.

Not a line on either website nor a sensible public word.

Former Liverpool and England winger John Barnes who was cruelly abused during his early playing days with Watford, said on the radio this weekend that it was much worse in his day but added that non-racists will resort to racist language in the heat of the moment as players sledge and slag each other to gain mental advantage on the pitch. Although there may be a hint of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen in Barnes’ “Call that racism? Now we really had it tough”, he makes a telling point.

But where does it all end?

Within this so-called banter, ironic, wind-up or otherwise, hides a real evil.

Does anything go on a football pitch because they don’t really mean it?

How do we know who’s racist and who’s just a bit heavy on the ‘sledging’?

Football has publicly done more than any other industry to combat racism and has made great strides in the last 20 years, as has the country generally.

Having to make allowances for ‘pretend’ racism is as absurd as it is backward.

We have to be moving away from racism not flirting with it in competitive situations where the unscrupulous use its power to gain psychological advantage.

Isn’t that how racism started in the first place?

People will always go too far if they are allowed to. If someone uses that kind of language in a Sunday morning game there’s going to be trouble; if someone shouts it on the street, likewise.

Football, as much as it lives in the shiny bubble of its own obsession is just another part of life.

The same rules must apply.

There’s a certain something about the top of the League One table, don’t you think?

Wednesday and United third and fourth, nicely placed and looking forward to the rest of the season with high hopes.

There have been too many false dawns on either side of the city to get excited yet but, fingers crossed, it’s just the beginning.

Cut and paste it though, just in case.