Kick It Out

Posted by Rushian on October 25, 2003, 05:15:35 PM

Between the 16-28 October 2003  Kick It Out have been organising a national week of action against racism. Clubs, players, fans and community groups across the country have taken part in a series of events designed to raise awareness of racism, whilst helping to celebrate the contribution made to football by black, Asian and other ethnic minorities.

Liverpool FC have thrown their full weight behind the campaign and on Saturday the first team squad will be wearing "Kick It Out" t-shirts as they warm up for the Leeds game, just as they did at Portsmouth. The Kop will also be involved with a massive show of solidarity against racism. Fans will hold aloft cards to form a giant mosaic. The mosaic, organised by LFC and Red All Over the Land, will feature our famous Liverbirds and the words: NO RACISM.


Each year Kick It Out produce a fanzine featuring fans writing about their game to explore issues of football, race and fan culture. A copy of the fanzine, United Colours of Football 4, can be downloaded as a pdf file from the following web address:

http://www.kickitout.org/files/UnitedColoursOfFootball.pdf

As a taster we reprint an article from the fanzine:

Black Flash, Flash is Black! Celebrating a hundred years of black players.

Midway through the Daily Mail?s fight for our brave black boys (the racist abuse from the Macedonian crowd towards England players in September was ?shameful? despicable? foul and disgusting?), the paper reflexed, and splashed this: ?THEY?RE BACK: the new asylum army massing in Calais?.

It?s a comforting, fuzzy two-tier world of racism. And football, unfortunately, lives by it. Why, Mail readers must be wondering along with half of the country, are only 1% of season ticket holders black or Asian? Why not when they?re given such generous one-of-us backing by the regulars as: ?I?d rather be a Paki than a Turk??

But as depressing as the relapse is ? particularly outside the Premiership, where the scale of the problem seems to be increasing ? the BBC?s recent Black Flash was like a breath of fresh air. Using interviews and archive footage to illustrate well how much progress has been made, and at what cost.

The film showcased the history of black footballers in Britain over the last 120 years, charted their arrival, their abuse, and the legacy of individuals.

Men such as Arthur Wharton ? the first black professional footballer in Britain (every football fan should know his name): an 1880?s womanising, drinking, world record breaking sprinter and Preston goalkeeper, and Tottenham?s Walter ?Darkie? Tull ? who, in an age when science had ?proven? blacks inferior to whites, went on to become the first black officer in the British army, and to die a hero ? among his men ? in the Somme.

Postwar immigration from the British colonies marked the real start of the transformation of the game to a point where, in last summer?s World Cup quarter- final, England?s team featured more black players than white.

Among those that led the way, and bore the brunt was Albert Johanneson ? black stereotyped as ?gifted but gutless? ? who died an alcoholic in a high rise in Leeds. Lloyd ?Lindy? Delaphena, Chris Williams, Viv Anderson ? England?s first capped black player; Cyril Regis, who received a bullet in the post before his first England game; Luther Blissett, England?s first debut hat-trick scorer, and John Barnes, who faced travelling home from his famous England goal in Brazil on the same flight as what might as well have been fully paid-up members of the National Front. All of these are names to relish as footballers, regardless of their race.

A glaring question strikes me - what of the Asian players? The black breakthrough came at the right time, the way was paved for others. The climate should be right to see a transition from the mad-for-it kids to be seen in local parks in London, Manchester and all points midlands and east. But talk to enough scouts and managers and you know that beyond the ?we?ll take all talent, doesn?t matter what they eat or when they pray?, lies a feeling that is more likely to say ?leave ?em to cricket?.

And what about our pioneers where are they going? Brendan Batson, John Barnes and Ian Wright have all recently talked about the glass ceiling in the game. Remarkably, despite his legendary status as a player, coaching qualifications a plenty, and desire to manage (let?s face it Football on Channel 5 isn?t likely to keep many of us in one place for long) Barnes is clear that he isn?t being offered a job because of his race. If they manage to get a job in the first place, he says, black managers aren?t given a second chance.

The man who stands out most, perhaps for isolation at the start of football?s TV era, is Clyde Best, who took the worst of the Seventies abuse from opposition fans, and from his own at West Ham. An inspiration to the likes of Barnes and Wright, Best?s dignified resolve was indomitable.

?Clyde was absolutely vital to what is going on now because he took all the abuse almost single- handedly,? says Rodney Hinds, sport editor of the Voice. ?Without a pioneer like Clyde Best today?s footballers ? where would they be??

Indeed and perhaps now is the time to ask where will they, and others like them, be in five, ten, fifteen years time ...

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Articles in the fanzine include:

David Baddiel on what it means to be abused as a 'Yiddo'

Eastern Europe: What's the deal? Rafal Pankowski takes a look at Poland

Pioneers: We celebrate the 25th anniversary of Viv Anderson's debut as England's first black footballer

Anderson's Eleven: Viv selects his Black England XI (including 4 Liverpool players)

Up from the roots: Sporting Bengal describe their promotion to senior football from humble beginnings

In an interview with the official site this week Rick Parry has reiterated that the Club will do everything within its power to promote and educate supporters that racist abuse is intolerable, but stressed LFC are reliant on fans coming forward and reporting issues to the nearest Steward or Police Officer. Alternatively, written complaints should be addressed to Anfield Stadium Manager Ged Poynton or Assistant Club Secretary Jonathan Hargreaves.

Kick it Out also have a freephone line which you can call on 0800 16 99 414. In all cases, confidentiality is assured by LFC and Kick It Out for anyone making a complaint and where possible seat details prove a great help.

? RAWK 2003

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