Examining England’s Supposed “Zero Tolerance For Racism” Policy

Racism is a practice that is socially unjust, morally condemnable, dangerous and completely unjustifiable anywhere, in theory, or in practice.

It happens in almost every sphere of life and in every other corner of the world. When racism started to become a big issue in Sports, football especially, football associations and confederations laid down policies and deterrents aimed at eradicating the demeaning act.

England being one of the oldest homes of football and home to the most watched league in the world have come out multiple times to talk about a “zero tolerance for racism”.

In 2012, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said “when it comes to racism, we have zero tolerance for it. There is no room for it”.

The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and the League Managers Association (LMA) said they have “a zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination”.

They openly show support to “Kick-It-Out” – An organisation that fights against discrimination and promotes equality.

They keep talking about zero tolerance but recent history suggests that “zero tolerance” has merely been a slogan and they make mockery of their statements with their irregular choices and decisions.

Malky Mackay and his Cardiff City colleague, Ian Moody, shared racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic texts between themselves which eventually led to Cardiff City relieving both men of their duties.

Everyone would expect the FA to do something right? Wrong, they FA came out to say that after a “thorough” 11-month investigation, they were not taking any disciplinary measures as regards the case.

At the start of the extraordinary season which culminated in Leicester City winning the Premier League, Jamie Vardy casually dropped racial slurs directed at an Asian man on camera in a casino.

This was just before he scored his 11th consecutive goal in the Premier League to set a new EPL record but in a normal working and living environment, Vardy should have actually been expelled or suspended at the very least.

As much as a man can score goals and set records, the FA failed to live to their “zero tolerance” slogan and in the process condoning a socially unjust and dangerous behaviour just because the man can score a bunch of goals.

Hateful language has over the years been connected to cases of violence and Jamie Vardy, then already a member of England’s “esteemed” National team, by slurring a man due to his ethnicity, demeaned him.

Most Recently, Chelsea Ladies striker Eniola Aluko reported that she was racially abused by her manager Mark Sampson, to the FA.

On two separate occasions, the man has been cleared of wrongdoing. This comes after Sampson had also been previously accused of jokingly asking a mixed-race England player how many times she had been arrested.

Aluko has come out to say the independent inquiry set up by the FA was a farce as the investigators never questioned the said player for either allegations.

The FA claimed to not know the identity of the player but Aluko confirmed that the identity of the player was in her official complaint, who at the time was even the only mixed-race player in the England set-up.

Aluko’s 11-year career which saw her turn out 102 times for the National team was ended within a week of her reports and complaints. The FA also launched an investigation into her work as a sports lawyer for a Football agency. Coincidence? I doubt it.

“I believe all these things are happening because it’s a conversation about race and this is a big problem in the world right now,” Aluko said. “Herman Ouseley [the chairman of Kick It Out] said it. On the pitch, there are clear punishments when it comes to issues involving race. Behind closed doors, we don’t know the FA processes.

Aluko tweeted her disdain at the selfishness of the England players yesterday after the whole team obviously showed solidarity with, and ran towards, Mark Sampson in the 11th minute of their World Cup qualifier against Russia as Nikita Parris scored the opening goal.

Much is left to be asked of the supposed “Zero Tolerance for Racism” in English football as being popularly brandished by the FA and the Premier League. Whether there will ever be answers is left to be seen.