Posted on 23 October 2012.
It’s not often this column praises footballers for having principles.
In fact we cannot remember the last time one of the multi-trillionaire bunch of unlikable bigheads could even spell the word let alone own one or two as well.
However, today we feel it necessary to utter the words ‘take a bow, Rio Ferdinand.’
Times seem to be tough for the Manchester United man. His creaking body seemingly won’t let him play more than a handful of matches at a time and Roy Hodgson saw it fit to dump him from the England squad for the rest of eternity while chatting to passengers on the London tube – ouch.
However, the 33-year-old proved that footballers do have values and that those he holds are more important than following the crowd or simply doing as your boss tells you – regardless of some huge fine.
Ferdinand, like Jason Roberts and many other black players, refused to wear the anti-racism ‘Kick It Out campaign’ t-shirts before this weekend’s set of Premier League matches. For this he received the wrath of his boss-not-to-be-messed-with, Sir Alex Ferguson, and various commentators.
However, coming after last week it’s not hard to see what drove Ferdinand to make his stand known.
First, the contemptible John Terry finally apologised for calling Anton Ferdinand a “******* black ****” – coming a year too late and after his meagre four-match ban. His club, Chelsea, also apologised but at the same time refused to strip him of the captaincy.
Second, England under-21 international Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball away having been subject to vile racist chants from a significant and audible section of the crowd during the away clash in Serbia. The left-back was then pushed by some of the opposition players as he made his way off the pitch.
The Terry case proves that while authorities and clubs talk a good game about combating racism, their actions still lag a long way behind their rhetoric. While the Serbia shame once again brings into focus UEFA’s pathetic responses to racism and shines the spotlight on that governing body to prove it takes the problem seriously.
In the past UEFA’s dished out woefully small fines to clubs and countries whose fans have decided to pick on a player because of the colour of his skin. As recently as April this year Porto were fined just $ 26,700 as punishment for their supporters directing monkey chants at Mario Balotelli during Manchester City’s Europa Cup match in Portugal.
That contrasts appallingly with UEFA slapping Denmark striker Nicolas Bendtner with a $ 128,000 penalty for displaying unauthorised sponsorship during the Euro Championships.
How will the governing body (the same one that is insisting captains wear ‘United Against Racism’ armbands in this week’s Champions League games) react to last week’s scenes in Serbia? You don’t have to be a cynic to suggest they will ditch all thoughts of a ban or points reduction for the national side, in favour of another meaningless and tiny fine.
In a game where the above is allowed to take place you can forgive Ferdinand and Co for thinking that wearing a T-shirt – no matter how laudable the message emblazoned on it is – isn’t really key to solving the problem.
There’s enough lip service already being paid to the idea of football tackling racism – why would Ferdinand want to add to it?
FITTING FAREWELL FOR WONDER HORSE
No sooner had us lot at 7DAYS Towers come to really appreciate just what a wonder horse Frankel is, than the classy colt thunders off in the distance to be retired to stud.
We were big fans of Sea The Stars – the 2009 Derby, Eclipse, Gunieas and Arc winner making it into our top 10 sporting stars of the naughties. But it’s fair to say he’s now well and truly been replaced in our affections by Frankel.
And here’s why.
The combined winning margin of his 14 wins from 14 races is a stunning 76 lengths. His average top speed was 43 miles an hour and, low and behold, he even managed to Tweet every now and again (we’re deadly serious about that last one, he had his own Twitter account…).
All-time true greats are rare in sport, but it’s clear for all to see that Frankel is easily worthy of that accolade and we were lucky to witness him in full flight.
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