Friday, September 28, 2012

John Terry

Everyone knew that John Terry didn't stand an earthly at the FA Tribunal. The finding was utterly predictable, which is why Terry was right to resign as an international beforehand. Terry's real crime was that he reminds the football authorities, and the liberal media come to that, of what the archetypal football is like - ignorant, violent and prone to outbursts of racism, sexism, homophobia and the rest. Despite his millions, John Terry still comes across as a member of the only minority group it's OK to despise: the white working class.

Inevitably there have been anguished discussions about the 'racism in football', as though the game is awash with racist hate and violence. People who believe this to be true have no sense of recent history whatsoever.

As a teenager I had to stop going to Stamford Bridge in the late 70s and early 80s because a person of my colour was likely to be attacked by fellow Chelsea supporters. The big football firms were explicitly aligned with the National Front and British Movement (despite the fact that leading Chelsea hooligan Babs was half black). Large numbers of fans were switching from being casuals to being skinheads. This was a time when Chelsea fans unfurled banners with SS symbols on them. The lone attempt of anti-fascist Chelsea fans to organise was ended when one of them was almost stabbed to death at an away game in Prague by members of a fascist Chelsea gang.

But Chelsea were not the only club to suffer Nazi fans - most of the football firms were attracted to fascism because of the violence, because it was identified with them by the media and, just as importantly, it was a kick in the face to the liberal establishment.

That was then. And now? Football, and the fans, have moved on. It's not that racism doesn't exist. But it's down to individual vices, not an endemic and organised force. As well as the black faces on the field, there are more black faces in the crowd too.

But in the eyes of the media and the FA, John Terry reminds them too much of the Chelsea fan of old, and he's being punished now for the sins that the FA failed to tackle back then.

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