THE new chief executive of the Football Association, Brian Barwick, starts his job Monday.
Yesterday, even before arriving at his office in London's Soho Square, he got an idea of what a sackless organisation he is inheriting. The FA had somehow contrived to make a DVD of the best 17 England players of all time without including a single one with black skin.
It beggars belief and provokes suspicion. Why 17? Were there 20 until somewhat edited out three black players? The DVD has now been withdrawn pending the release of a new and, one hopes, improved edition.
For an organisation that declares itself to be wholeheartedly behind the campaign to keep racism out of the sport, the FA is hardly setting a good example. As it happened, news of the FA's blunder coincided with the launch of a campaign called Stand Up, Speak Up which has been organised by Nike at the prompting of Thierry Henry; its message will be carried by black and white wristbands. Henry thought of the idea after he heard of the words the Spanish coach Luis Aragones had used to describe him. Then came the so-called friendly game between England and Spain at Madrid during which the black English players were subjected to verbal insults and monkey noises. The Spanish authorities were fined a risible 45'000 pounds for their crowd's behaviour by Uefa, European football's governing body.
At the press conference launching the campaign Henry said he hadn't heard anything since I have been playing in England and credited the authorities for cracking down hard when spectators do indulge in racial abuse. But he is right in thinking the problem lurks just below the surface and should be buried deep.
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