Over recent years, Spain has found
itself in the spotlight for the racist abuse heard on an all-too-regular basis in
its stadia - and rightly so.
But perhaps we have become a little
complacent in our own back yard - a situation that was highlighted by the
racial abuse of Middlesbrough's Mido.
Make no mistake, the chants hurled
at the Egyptian were racist and not just 'good fun' - a man has admitted as
much. But the punishment meted out to him - a £270 fine with £45 costs - was
The paltry sum, and the fact that
he escaped a banning order, gives out entirely the wrong message to racists who attend
football matches. There is no room in the game for these people, but a fine of
a mere couple of hundred quid will not keep them away.
This time, the magistrates have
let football down. They should have backed up their naming and shaming of the
culprit with a punishment that would act as a deterrent to potential future
On the pitch, football has become multi-cultural
- players from all over the world ply their trade in the Premier League - but sometimes
the mindset on the terraces still lags behind.
And unfortunately, there are still
some fans out there who need educating. Take those Tottenham fans who abused
Sol Campbell at Portsmouth
Several Spurs fans have assured me
the chants directed at their former player were not racist. I agree with them, but
they were homophobic and that is just as unacceptable.
Time has been no healer for Spurs
fans aggrieved at the way Campbell
left White Hart Lane
and their feelings towards him are still raw, making the 'Judas' chants aimed
at him somewhat inevitable.
But once that spills over into
homophobic abuse it becomes an issue, like racism, that needs to be dealt with
immediately and stamped out.
Those found guilty of such
offences should be collectively embarrassed, so at least it was encouraging to see Hampshire
police issuing photographs of those suspected of abusing Campbell.
At the time of writing, just one of
those suspects had been arrested. Let's hope more will follow and that, if
found guilty, their punishments are stiff enough to send out a clear message: there
is no place for racism, nor homophobia, in football.