Football & The City - Dec. 10th 2018
Football & The City
Editorial by J.S. Leatherbarrow
As we all go faster on the merry-go-round of modern football, everything becomes blurrier. We pay our money & enjoy the ride. We try to ignore the horrible faces we catch glimpses of as we fly past them. Look - I swear I saw Martin Solveig there making a sexist comment towards one of the world’s greatest female players. And there - were they some Chelsea fans racially abusing Raheem Sterling?
Football happens so quickly now - it is hard to make some sense out of all the noise. But some things still stand out as clear as day.
This week has shown the very worst of football. And ironically the very best.
I really wanted to dedicate this very first editorial to my love of the game - but the events of this week have rendered that impossible.
Where to begin then? Ada Hegerberg won the historic inaugural women’s Ballon D’or award & the moment of crowning glory was absolutely ruined by sexist twat & professional iPod shuffler Martin Solveig.
Miss Hegerberg had just given an inspirational speech about how young girls all over the world can achieve anything if they believe in themselves - and was then asked if she could twerk by Solveig.
His subsequent “apology” was basically him attempting to justify his actions as part of “the buzz,” clarifying that it was just a “joke” & saying Hegerberg “understood.” Her face & reaction at the time suggested anything but. However, acting with grace and dignity she attempted to shift the focus back onto her achievement. As she should - but the horse had already bolted.
Solveig’s cowardice in not owning his actions made certain men on Twitter think they had a free pass to say what they wanted about women & about how people were “taking it too seriously” - and much worse as you can imagine.
This was a moment of progress for women in general - finally being acknowledged for their talent instead of being a mere sideshow to a majority of football fans.
If some men don’t consider half of our species to be equal - then what hope have we of stamping out other cancers like racism or homophobia in the sport?
Which leads me onto Raheem Sterling.
The actions of the 3 Chelsea fans screaming vicious abuse at Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge on Saturday 8th December 2018 felt like a watershed moment. It went viral very quickly. The tide seems to finally be turning for good against racial abuse in English football. For me, personally, those who are debating whether 1 of the snarling unpleasantnesses were screaming “Manc c***” or “black c***” are missing the point.
It has thrown - yet again - questions of racism in football firmly into the limelight. Sterling dealt with the whole situation in an admirable way & spoke eloquently in an Instagram post about how certain sections of the press help to fuel this hatred. I am delighted that he did.
This is a problem that we need to do better on. We need to take collective responsibility in our sport to stamp it out. That means journalists, the governing bodies, the clubs and yes - the fans too. It is no longer good enough to say “it’s only a minority - they don’t represent us.” Yes - they do. They DO represent us. That’s the point. Saying otherwise diminishes it & seeks to distance ourselves from this cancer. We all need to own it. We all must do better. Not just when something horrific happens - but on a consistent basis until the day this scourge is finally eliminated, once and for all, from the sport we all love.
This has been a bad week for football. But also a good one. Ada Hegerberg & Raheem Sterling are brave, talented, young people. They have shown us the way.
It is now up to us to follow their example & do better to end the plague of discrimination in our sport. For good.
J.S. Leatherbarrow - Editor