Chelsea Can Try To Deny It But Racism Runs In The Blood Of Football
Jose Mourinho made what can only be construed as ignorant and frustrating comments when he asserted that there’s no racism in football and that football managers are employed by merit. For a man who postures as being brilliant –with the help of the eager to impress media—one would assume that he would spend some time thinking on a subject before speaking on it. It is unfortunately not the first time that he’s made such comments.
After John Terry was punished for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, Jose rushed to Terry’s defence in perplexing fashion: Stating that John Terry is most definitely, 100% not a racist because “Chelsea had a squad where we had 12 African players in the squad. It was a fantastic squad and he had always a great relation with every one of them”, but that Terry may have made a racist comment or had a racist attitude. The argument summarised as: Terry can’t be racist because he had black teammates and even though he made a racist comment and might have a racist attitude, he is 100% not a racist.
Past that, his new comments reveal some unsurprising but dangerous attitudes.
First, the blatantly ignorant claim that there’s no racism in football and that football would be stupid to close its door to certain people. It would be understandable if Mourinho reveals that he’s so concentrated on his managerial duties that he is unable to spend much time on the issues of world football, then, if that is so, he should be advised to not speak on such issues. But this is not the case, and The Special One confidently denies the harsh reality of the game even though there exists mudslides of evidence: The monkey chants, banana throwing practices in Italy, Spain, and Russia to name a few. The racist acts of England brave’s John Terry, Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, Milan Baros, Leandro Desabato, and the deceased Luis Aragones who called Arsenal legend Thierry Henry a “black s***”. Racism unfortunately runs in the blood of football, in the same way that it runs in the veins of society. Denying that racism exists in football is, if we are being forgiving, the misguided squawking of the ignorant and if we’re being cynical - since this line was also used by Spanish and Russian officials to cover up their leagues’ dirty underbelly - a very well thought-out and methodical approach to oppression.
Secondly, because his comments were made on the heels of a Rooney Rule-style initiative, Mourinho claims that jobs in football are given on merit. This is dangerous on many levels both explicitly and implicitly. For one, it’s just wrong for the simple fact that football is no different from standard society; where merit will always take a backseat to who you are and what you know. There are countless managers who inexplicably are hired even though their track records are shocking and many more who keep their jobs when all reason calls for the sack – Hi Felix Magath and Alan Pardew!
More sinister though, is that if football is based on merit, then blacks in football who aspire to be managers are just not good enough; even though they’re not given the chance to begin with and only a handful of blacks have actually managed in the professional ranks. That’s what Jose and many more fans and powerful individuals in football seem to believe. While Mourinho’s belief seems to be a case of “if I don’t experience it, it doesn’t exist” since he seems to see everything from his own arrogant perception of him being the master of everything that happens in his world, the others are not. Fans often times use the few failed black managers that have been in the game to justify the discrimination. “Here, look at the ones that have failed - blacks just aren’t good managers”.
If we are to entertain such childish ways of thinking, to use a few individuals to generalise a public, it would be damning to the current structure.
The list of failed managers is endless and white, so with that justification that a few that have failed is an indication of the whole race’s inability then one would be forced to ask why white managers are even hired at all since the failure rate is much larger than the success rate. No, it couldn’t be that because no reasonable human being would actually stand behind an argument as silly as that. What we have here is the archaic notion –made popular as a rationalization for enslavement and the cruel treatment of slaves—that blacks are inherently not as smart as their counterparts and so cannot understand complex systems or hold higher level jobs.
You see, the Premier League can be flooded with black footballers –though there’s also the undiscussed racism of positional play for black players and the language used to describe them that box them into certain stereotypes; pace, power, not tactically astute… - but not black managers. The body is useful but the brain is a waste. A notion that one would assume reasonable people would see as insanely oppressive and false, but still guides much of the world’s perception of darker skinned individuals.
If we are to give Jose the benefit of the doubt; and acknowledge that he is just an ignorant man speaking on things that he doesn’t suffer from and has not spent time thinking on, then the only valid opinions should be that of those who actively suffer from it. And what these opinions are is that racism not only exists in the field but as always, is an institutional behavior in the systems that govern. The FA and the EPL are only perpetuating it by not raising the issue at their own AGM but basically ignoring it.
Football management, like all governance of people, should reflect the current society and there’s no excuse for there only ever being 3-4 black managers in Premier League history. The confusion around the Rooney Rule seems to be that blacks will be given exceptions and hired based on race, which is again false. The rule only states that clubs should follow best hiring practices and give a minority candidate a chance to interview for the position. It does not guarantee or force clubs to hire them, only to give them the chance. That alone should tell you the dire state of football and the world as a whole, when asking for the chance to interview for a job that you’re qualified for is being opposed as being biased.
Mourinho is wrong, racism exists in football and jobs are not based at all on merit. There needs to be a drastic change of the current system for the betterment of football society; the Rooney Rule is only a start but more will have to be done. Mourinho should speak only on things that he understands if he is to persist with his own egocentric view of the world, because in a case like this, he is only feeding the oppression and damaging his reputation in the process.