Racism is society and social media’s problem; not an English football problem

Another weekend has gone by; another weekend of racist abuse towards black footballers on social media.

This time it was Manchester United’s Paul Pogba being abused following his penalty miss against Wolves.

Racists in football has, for so long, been stereotyped as some like myself. White, English, bald, overweight. But the racism we now see in football is different.

It is no longer fans abusing players on the pitch. That behaviour is nearly completely eradicated, with there only being a handful of incidents a year, if that.

The modern day racism in football happens elsewhere. It happens on twitter. On Facebook. On YouTube.

For a long time social media is a cesspit of abuse. A place where people think they can abuse others based on their race, gender, sexuality. And it is not just footballers getting the abuse. I remember years ago scrolling through YouTube comments and the abuse thrown between commenter’s was disgusting.

You had a commenter racially abusing other commentators despite not know what they looked like, where they lived, who they were. It was disgusting. YouTube did not do enough to stop it and we are now seeing the same on Twitter.

Abuse on Twitter is not a new thing. It has existed since Twitter begun. It is only recently that the media has decided to report on the abuse.

Instead of Twitter being a place where players can become closer to fans, it reinforces why players distance themselves.

The abuse of players is shocking.

Social media has been brilliant for the world. It has made it a smaller place. It has given people hope, given people friendship. How often do you talk to someone from another city? Another country? Another continent whom you would now have previously spoken too? It has opened the world.

But what it has also done is make you realise how bigoted the world is.

The world is not a nice place. Many countries do not have the freedom of religion, of gender, of sexuality that the UK has.

Many counties have laws that do discriminate. Where homosexuality is illegal, and where following a different religion is against the law. Where people of a different race, or from a different country, are second class citizens. In many countries across the world, discrimination is the norm. And we see that on Twitter.

I am proud to live in the United Kingdom. One of the most diverse and most “tolerant” countries in the world.

Yes, we have our problems – I am of the opinion there will never be a time when a society has zero discrimination – but we are so much more advanced than the majority other countries in the world. A recent study by Frontiers in Sociology found that only Sweden and Denmark are “less prejudice to people of a different race” than the UK within the EU. This despite the apparent rise of abuse following Brexit.

Another study found that 5% of people in the UK don’t want neighbours of another race. That might seem high but in Libya it is 54%, Palestine 44% and India 43.6%. 31.3% of people in Malaysia would not want a neighbour of another race, 29.6% of South Koreans and 21% of Nigeria.

The problem is social media brings counties who have less tolerance, where discrimination is legal, where men and women, Christians and Muslims, Black and White are unequal, together. People’s whose views we would not usually here, living in the UK, and suddenly broadcast around the world.

Who are football clubs, the Premier League, the FA or the British authorities supposed to act when much of the abuse towards players is not coming from with the United Kingdom?

Twitter also gives bigots anonymity to hide behind and abuse from.

Children, adults, idiots, who say comments that they would not say at work or in the local boozer. Yet put a mobile phone in their hand and they think it is “banter” to abuse something.

And it is not just footballers that are abused.

I am personally not a fan of Owen Jones, but he receives homosexual abuse on a daily basis. Dianne Abbott racial abuse. Stella Creasy, a white female MP is often abused based on her gender.

Under the anonymity of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube they think they can spout their rubbish. Their vile. They think its banter. That it is a joke. It is not.

I grew up in Walthamstow. Race was not an issue. We were kids playing football, cricket and basketball. It was a tough upbringing but a good upbringing. Everyone was equal, everyone’s religion respected.

Sadly it seems others have not had a similar upbringing. They still race as some to abuse. Something to banter. And they aim their frustrations at footballers. But it is not footballs problem.

Racism in English football, on the terraces, is nearly non-existent. Clubs and the authorities have worked hard to eradicate it. The problem lies with social media companies; with society beyond these shores.

Go on Paul Pogba’s timeline following the missed penalty against Wolves and you can see the cross section of people abusing him.

It is not just your white, overweight, British skin head. It is Indians having a go, Africans and Arabs. It is every race, from many different countries. You are getting black people racially abusing a black football. All because he missed a penalty.

Recently Iwobi was racially abused by an Indian actress who was an Ambassador for Arsenal. The actress in question is far removed from the stereotypical football racist from the 70s. But her comments were as vile as those who used to scream it from the terraces. Has she been given a football banning order?

Racism is a huge issue across the world. It is a problem English football faces but it is not English footballs problem. It is not like fans in the ground are unveiling banners protesting the club for buying black players.

Football clubs, the Premier League, the FA, Kick It Out, can only do so much. But they can not stop a 14-year-old boy from Devon Tweeting abuse. They can not stop a man from Nigeria tweeting abuse, or an actress from India putting something on her Instagram or Snapchat.

Social media shows that many places across the globe are less developed mentally than the likes of the UK. Countries where discrimination is the norm, even enshrined in law.

The comments and abuse say a lot more about the individual than they do about the team they follow.

Until the likes of twitter have zero tolerance on racism; it will continue.

Racism is not English footballs problem. It is bigger than that.



Loan deal the best option for Missing Mustafi

In Arsenal’s opening game of the season, it was Calum chambers in the starting XI with David Luiz the only defender on the bench.

At the weekend against Burnley, the pair swapped positions with Luiz starting and Chambers on the bench.

For the 2nd week in a row, Unai Emery was unable (or unwilling) to find a space for Shkodran Mustafi.

Last Thursday the club released an update about Rob Holding. The Englishman is back in full training and will probably be back in the team for the 1st Europa League group game in a months time, where he will partner Chambers.

Holding’s return will push Mustafi further down the pecking order. 5th choice centre back. It is a clear indication that Emery does not want him. But as time goes on, doors will begin closing on the German.

The English transfer window shut on August 9th, the eve of the new season, but across Europe windows are still open for a limited time.

In recent days, Mustafi has been linked to Roma. The Serie A window shuts on the 2nd September.

Likewise a move to Monaco would have to also be completed on the 2nd September. It is the same date if Mustafi is to return to France or Germany.

An outside bet is Turkey, their window shuts on 1st September.

With Arsenal currently holding out for £25million+, a loan option may well be the end result.

If a club is will to pay his £90,000 a week wages, Arsenal might be willing to let him go if a side stumps up a £7million loan fee – that is the cost of Mustafi’s amortised transfer fee within the accounts following his £35million move from Valencia in 2016.

That would save Arsenal nearly £12million and in a year’s time, the club would be willing to accept a much lower transfer fees, potentially in the region of £15million.

Arsenal are making it clear and obvious to Mustafi that his services are no longer required.

It is now up to him whether he has the ambition to push for a move, or is happy sitting around for 2 years picking up nearly £10million and not playing.

Watch this space…

Josh Kroenke – Is he starting to get it?

Speaking to BBC Sport, Josh Kroenke has revealed that following the Europa League defeat, he pushed Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi to ‘be aggressive and find out what’s possible’ in the transfer market.

The full interview is well worth a listen, and raises the question that maybe josh is starting to get it?

Back in June a selection representatives from all the fans groups, some bloggers and some people who have been active in fans rights sat down together to discuss what was happening with the club and how we, the fans, could influence things.

Out of that meeting came a letter to Stan Kroenke and #WeCareDoYou was born.

The letter mentioned “meaningful action” and that “change needs to start with better leadership”.

“It is sad that an institution like Arsenal FC has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies.”

In response to the statement, Josh Kroenke replied in kind.

Whilst this reply did not address anything within the original statement, it was the beginning of a longer communication. By acknowledging the letter and the fans concerns, he had at least shown he was willing to listen to Arsenal fans.

Now the letter to the Kroenke’s probably did not influence how the club behaved in the transfer market. Anyone who thinks that the letter or any other sort of protest has forced the club to spend nearly £140million is arrogant and only looking for personal congratulations.

But what the letter has done is force Josh Kroenke to step out of the shadows and address the fans.

At this point, some will say “Josh but not Stan”.

Josh Kroenke is his fathers representative at Arsenal. He is the one who goes to games. Attends meetings. When he speaks he is speaking on behalf of KSE, on behalf of his father.

The clubs transfer plans formed following the Europa League Final. Some might say that this is too late, too little; but I would prefer to say “better late than never”.

Kroenke speaks a lot in the interview about a decision to be more aggressive in the transfer market and showing aggressive leadership.

This is the exact opposite of the passive ownership that the letter mentions.

For years Arsenal have taken a cautious approach in the transfer market. Ensuring that the club does not overspend; but often underspending and leaving themselves short.

The summer of 2015 is a perfect example of the club not being aggressive enough in the transfer market.

That summer we bought just Petr Cech. We failed to sign an outfield player.  We finished 2nd points behind Leicester City. A more aggressive approach to the transfer market would have seen us win the title.

Now I do not think the Kroenke’s have injected cash into the club. But what Josh has done is let Vinai and Sanllehi know that it is OK to be more aggressive with the clubs money. That they have a multi-billion pound empire behind them supporting them. That it is ok to take a risk, that they are not risking the future of the club.

In the interview, Kroenke also indicates that this new, aggressive Arsenal is not going to be a one off. That it will be the future.

“We’re excited to keep pushing that now and into the future… I hope our fans understand that by being aggressive that’s exactly what we were.”

“The hard part is staying patient and understanding that we’re putting plans in place that are going to unfold over the next several years.”

Josh finally goes on to dispel that myth that the Kroenke’s are ‘not interested in winning trophies.’

“Our ambitions are the same as the fans. We want to win and we want to win as much and as often as possible. And doing it a fun way, where they’re seeing some really entertaining football as well. I think we’ve got the group to do it,”

“We have the highest of ambitions. In North America, we are trying to win. The [Los Angeles] Rams were in the Super Bowl last year. I can only imagine what a Champions League final is like after being over in Baku.

“There are six great clubs in the Premier League and unfortunately only four [Champions League] spots that are guaranteed. The economics involved – to be able to reinvest back into the club, attract different players who only want Champions League football… our goal is to get back and to win the Premier League.”

Whilst the interview with Josh does not address everything that the letter back on July bought up, it does show that maybe he is starting to get it.

This summer the club have taken meaningful action, and it seemingly started with better leadership following the Europa League final defeat.

The fact that this is the 2nd time we have heard from Josh in about a month shows he realises he can not be a passive owner. That he has to be more open and accountable.

I do not expect the Kroenke’s to come out tell the world what their plan is to make Arsenal great again. But we do need to know that there is a plan, that there are goals. And Kroenke has done that.

There is still a lot to be addressed and a long way to go reconnect the fans to the club, but in coming out and speaking alongside the clubs actions this summer show we are back on the right track.

It is the beginning of a new journey, and hopefully Josh Kroenke continues to show aggressive leadership and drive the club forward.

KSE still have a lot to do to show they care, but this is a start.


Note: These are the views of KeenosAFC and not an official statement on behalf of the the signatures of the #WeCareDoYou letter