Johnny & Al's Racist Football On TV

The BBC likes a good issue programme, but Johnny & Al reckon their latest effort - Clarke Carlisle on racism - didn't offer much, but that doesn't make it worthless...

Last Updated: 19/07/12 at 13:32 Post Comment

Latest Articles

F365's Liverpool Signings Quiz - The Questions

Post comment

A quiz all about Brendan Rodgers' signings as Liverpool manager. Go!

All Articles

At the beginning of this year, we wrote that it was a minor scandal that the BBC was not making more programmes about the nation's favourite pastime. Nowadays, it feels that scarcely a week goes past without another documentary about football. The current commissioning vogue is not for anything that happens on the pitch, but for earnest efforts to explore issues surrounding the sport. In real terms, this generally means documentaries about "isms".

Racism in football is an ideal subject for a populist, pseudo-socio-science documentary. You've got a premise that surely anyone who might watch can get behind: racism is bad, millions of people like football, therefore racism in football is bad and affects millions of people. You've got a huge pool of media-ready talking heads. Their findings are impossible to disprove. You're on the side of the angels.

The latest commendable effort comes with Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, in the presenter's role. As is the case with everything on TV, from antiques to dead great aunts to children's books, the recent programme was A Very Personal Journey. Clarke himself had never experienced racism in football. However, he didn't have to go far to find a man who had. Two, in fact, were sitting right beside him in the Northampton Town dressing room; black footballers who had been abused by vermin in the crowd, one at home and one abroad. Naturally, the racist incident that took place in the former Baltic state was particularly disgusting in the violence of its language. 'Zigger, zigger, zigger kill the...' Well you can guess the rest. Thank God the Spice Girls didn't go down that lyric route.

Having established that two teammates had been racially abused while playing football, Clarke wondered if he himself "was unique". It may seem churlish to wonder whether one out of three constitutes meaningful uniqueness, but like many of these sorts of programme, what is sought is not rigour but an impressionistic effect. And we a not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. Stan Collymore then spoke about his views on Suarez, and the ensuing Twitter abuse - of the most wretched kind - that he has taken from "a small minority of Liverpool fans." Turns out, there are some real arseholes on the internet.

The programme took as its starting point the Suarez and Terry situations as examples of a worrying trend in British football. There are alien amoeba hidden under space rocks a billion light years away who are bored of hearing Liverpool fans' views on Suarez, so maybe fast forward through this bit of the programme if you catch it on iPlayer. Inconveniently for the programme perhaps, but nevertheless undeniably, the British justice system saw fit to acquit Terry. Whether one acquittal, and one hotly debated FA verdict sans criminal charges constitutes a trend is a debate for elsewhere other than this programme.

Seems to us that racism has several forms: abuse, violence and discrimination. We don't think that anyone is suggesting black players are subject to violent attacks, and given that black Britons form a greater percentage of footballers than in the population as a whole, we are not sure that it could be successfully argued that discrimination is denying playing opportunity. The days when the Big Wrongs of this world thought it was better to have white lads at the back because they were more reliable have quite clearly been consigned to the dustbin of history. We'd also argue that racial abuse from the crowd while not outlawed completely, is considered unacceptable by the vast majority as, it would seem, are on-pitch racial epithets, despite it being a place where abuse of all kinds is deemed to be mere 'banter'.

Indeed, it often seems to us that misogyny is far more endemic in football culture. But it seems you can abuse women all you like and the FA will never take action and can you imagine the abuse anyone who dared to say it was unacceptable would face? Now there's a programme.

The fact that Clarke Carlisle, who is in his early 30s, hadn't experienced any racism himself suggests the issue, while clearly not being eradicated, has undergone a radical transformation since the year of his birth, 1979.

For us, who have been fighting racism one way or another ever since we were old enough to understand what it was all about, such programmes as this are a little wearisome because it is basically the same old same old. There is nothing new brought to the debate that we have not heard said many, many times before. But this is not to say it has no merit; not everyone is as old and wizened as we are. It's worth remembering that TV has to service and enlighten younger people with little experience of the world as well as old dudes like us who look at life through narrowed-eyes, whiskey on our breath and blues in our soul. So this was a useful contribution to the debate and Carlisle an erudite TV presence but, for many, hardly essential viewing.

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

Alan's book is called 'Gin And Juice: The Victorian Guide To Parenting' and you can check it out here.

And read John's book, 'The Meat Fix.'

Follow Alan on Twitter here or Johnny here.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

suspect the review will conclude that Iago Aspas should never have been loaned out. Two hat-tricks in two Copa Del Rey games. One might say he has really turned a corner.

GVMUFC
'Liverpool in transfer review'

P

oise, power and (I noticed in his post match interview) freakishly large hands. You know what they say about men with big hands.......... big gloves.

disGUSting
Poise And Power: Barkley's Unique Blend

S

itting next to him in the studio will surely be the closest Jamie Carragher ever got to Thierry...

bungle1976
Henry retires and joins Sky

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Capital One Cup: Tottenham thump Newcastle 4-0 to reach the semi-finals

Tottenham thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 at White Hart Lane to reach the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

Premier League: Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to be treated by Boston Red Sox staff

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is set to spend Christmas in Boston as he continues to receive treatment on a thigh injury.

League Two: Hartlepool's new manager Ronnie Moore ready for 'biggest job'

Hartlepool's new manager Ronnie Moore says he is taking on "the biggest job in English football".

Mail Box

Pulis To Liverpool Might Just Work

One Mailboxer believes that Tony Pulis managing Liverpool isn't as silly as you might think. Plus Bournemouth aren't that romantic and we're all guilty of ignoring Everton...

It's Not As Simple As Losing Luis Suarez...

That's the view of Liverpool fans in the mailbox as the Reds continue to struggle without their talisman. Suarez isn't doing particularly well at Barca either, it should be said...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property