From December, 2005
The Football Association have turned down Donovan Ricketts’s appeal against the red card he received for reacting to racist abuse from Southend United supporters and in doing so have given racists a victory.
Racist Southend Supporters claimed a point for the Shrimpers by pushing Ricketts into reacting and getting sent off. They will be laughing now and could be given the Freedom of the Town should they go up/stay up by the single point they got through racially abusing our keeper.
Racist footballers willl be laughing too. The FA are telling them that they can add a few N words to their vocabulary and as long as the Referee does not hear it and they can get a reaction from an opposing player they will be ok. Every time you see a player have a word with another outside of the ear-shot of the Referee know that the FA have given them carte blanche to racially abuse.
Carte Blanche too to fans of other clubs. They can racially abuse for ninety minutes now to upset the opposition and if it works – even if the protagonists are sent out – then the FA will not step in to try ensure that is is matters of football which govern results not whom can keep and even head as they are disparaged.
Last week the FA wheeled out Svennis to tell England fans they should not sing songs about the Germans and the war at next year’s World Cup but if it upsets the Germans then why not?
The FA would not step in if it happened here – they seem to be considering it a valid tactic in trying to upset the opposition. Perhaps they will get Southend fans bussed over for the game with Trinidad and Tobago to see how many of them will lose their heads? After all it must be part of football if the FA stand back and do nothing about it.
The FA have let the racists win.
Response to Southend United supporters and threat of removal of BfB
Our article FA let the racists win has generated much debate both positive and negative between both Bradford City and Southend United supporters which is always good to see. However one Southend supporter – having taken offence – is taking steps to have this website removed so in the interests of keeping readers informed should teh website be taken down tomorrow it is for reasons beyond our control.
The following response was sent to a number of Southend United supporters and once again is included for information.
Response to Southend United supporters
Firstly allow me to apologise for what is blanket response to individual e-mails.
Secondly thank you for taking an interest in www.boyfrombrazil.co.uk. We try to make a website which engenders debate and discussion and on this occasion we have no doubt done that. While it is not apparent to the group of respondents I am presently addressing, this discussion has been as much concerned with positive reaction to the article as negative.
The article in question concerns Southend United in only two paragraphs and is a criticism of the F.A. for a failure to take into account racism when dealing with the suspension of Donovan Ricketts.
The first mention of Southend is factual. The second mention – and I can not stress this too clearly – is very much targeted at “Racist Southend supporters”. Indeed that phrase is used to make an exact delineation between the supporters accused by Ricketts of racist abuse and other supporters.
Given this precise and clear language I am surprised that so many Southend fans have taken offence. I know that should somebody address “racist Bradford City fans” I would not feel that I was being referred to.
Should a misunderstanding have occurred then I appreciate your mistake and trust you have no problem with me attacking racists, even if they are contained within the group of Southend supporters.
Some mails pointed out that Essex police had released the man arrested but released without charge, and that evidence for the racist abuse had not been forthcoming. Indeed one writer suggested there were no witnesses. He is wrong.
Donovan Ricketts witnessed the abuse and was subject to it. It is important to remember that Ricketts is the victim of a crime and only a perpetrator of breaking the rules of football. Ricketts – like any victim – has the right for his views to be considered. Many mails I have received accuse Ricketts of lying about being racially abused in a cold, calculating manner to avoid punishment under the rules of the game.
To make such an assumption against the victim of an alleged crime is offensive to me and to suggest that Ricketts word has less validity – that he can not be trusted to tell the truth – has worrying overtones.
Returning to the point in hand I do not believe that all Southend fans have been offended by this article – just those who fall under the term “racist Southend Supporters”. I have no problem offending racists.
The article in question comments on the F.A.’s treatment of Ricketts making a broader point than the Southend United game. It also speaks out against racist football supporters. I trust that none of those I am addressing believe a website should not question the F.A. or attack racists.
There has been suggestions that steps will be taken to have this article and the website removed. If you believe that the best course of action is that then by all means do so. Until such a time I shall continue to use this platform to attack racists and racist behaviour.
Some writers sought an apology for Southend fans and a retraction. I will not be apologising to those who feel they are “racist Southend supporters” nor shall I be retracting my criticism of those racists. If you are offended because you believe I was labelling all Southend fans racist I can only suggest you re-read the article not as the attack on a club as some would portray it, but as an attack on the racist in clubs (including Southend) and on F.A. policy in this matter.
If you feel football is improved by suppressing freedom of speech and freedom to attack racists then please get in touch and I will forward my web hosts details to you.
With this clarification I consider this matter closed. If you wish to contact me seeking an apology for “racist Southend supporters” then you will not get one. Otherwise thank you for your interest.
www.kickitout.org state Southend fan arrested
For further clarification www.kickitout.org have informed us of the following “We understand from Essex police a 26 year old man was arrested at the game on suspicion of “chanting racial abuse”. He is on police bail until December 22nd.”
Let us start today’s article on the red card for Donovan Ricketts for making an obscene gesture to Southend United fans who were racially abusing him with a couple of assumptions. Firstly that Donovan did make some kind of offensive gesture which could be classed a red cards offence under Rule 12.6 of Football which reads “Uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” – and I would not bet my mortgage that the level-headed Christian did – and that we all accept that Racism is wrong and has no place in society and in football.
With this in mind one is left with a curious call to make to the footballing authorities and a call that City are trying to make. That Ricketts’s offences are mitigated by circumstance. That the referee should “look the other way” and the game should rescind the red card on the basis that Ricketts had a right to be upset at the treatment he was getting.
For there are very few that would suggest that Ricketts should be forced to turn the other cheek to the abuse he was getting – although ironically Ricketts is one who would say he should – and accept in full belief that justice would be done on the perpetrator. In short very would say that Donovan Ricketts should stand and be called racist names and grin his oft seen smile to bare it.
However football and yesterday’s match referee and assistant suggest he should.
Likewise few would suggest that the best course of action for a footballer is to start getting involved in personal spats with spectators. Obscene gestures are liable to inflame a crowd and cause a wider problem and rightly are heavily discouraged in football and by the laws of the game. Assuming that Donovan Ricketts did make an offensive or insulting or abusive gesture to the supporters who seemingly were perfectly prepared to stand next to a man who would dish out racist abuse and not shun him then his red card is as clearly laid out in the rules of the game as the fact a goal is awarded when the ball goes in the net.
City have encountered this problem before. Unlike the majority of footballers our own Dean Windass has worked on a building site and uses the kind of language he would there on the field of play and is sent off for it all too frequently and often as a pre-cursor to my rants about how unfair such decisions are being applied to Windass, to the likes of John Hartson, to Craig Bellamy, but never to players who have not been tagged as “evil”.
An evenhanded approach to those rules would give Windass and Ricketts a red card every time.
However football rules are not applied even handed and as a game we recognise the need for refereeing flexibility.
Of course this is most often applied to headline decisions such as dismissals and is the subject of much debate but it is also applied liberally almost every minute of every game. Referees giving throw ins when offences committed would merit free kicks were they in the middle of the pitch but one method of restarting allows the game to flow more. Referees calling time when the ball is stuck in one corner and injury time is ebbing away because it saves the nastiness of Paul Linwood and Lewis Emanuel in the FA Cup this season.
Goal kicks taken from one side because the footing is better. Fouls and obstructions going unpunished because a goalkick is better reward. Looking at the individual decisions in a game one can see that even-handedly accurate application often comes second to flowing football. To what is the right thing to do. The right thing for the good of the game.
So what we have is the same kind of dichotomy between doing what is right and referees to adjudicate the mitigation of the offence in relation to the decision given use doing what is given under the rules and like the examples above a sliding scale. We are going to make another assumption being that the referee was not stupid nor was he ignorant to the idea that racism in football grounds still exists and thus what we have is the official deciding that said mitigation does not justify action on Ricketts’s part.
We have a man telling a man that he is wrong to react negatively to racism. In the year 2005 we have a man telling Ricketts he should accept racism.
The idea is so sickening – so backwards – that it is barely worth discussing in any other way that to say that the back pedalling after Saturday should be so fast as to make one’s head spin.
City can’t be given back the game we were leading 1-0 with eleven men but we can get Ricketts back at the behest of the FA who can use this as an opportunity to say that football will not be a party to racism and will not – by punishing those who complain about racism – give tacit agreement with the racists. The racist at Southend was identified and arrested but his actions had already hit their target. Ricketts was rattled. Rattled enough to lose his head and give some gesture to the visiting supporters. If the FA press ahead with the three game ban for City’s keeper then they are rubber stamping that racism and giving a big thumbs up for racist supporters to do it again. After all it clearly worked in the case of Donovan Ricketts and – should the Shrimpers find that a point is the difference between one thing and another this season it will have worked for them too.
I do not have much faith in the FA but I think I can trust them to not side with the racists.
The FA run campaigns saying they will give racism the red card. If they want to put that promise into practice Donovan Ricketts has one they can re-distribute.
I was begged by email today – always a curiosity – to give coverage o the counter-point argument to three articles which had run this week on BfB all of which concluded that keeping Colin Todd as Bradford City manager was the right thing to do.
I did not write any of the articles nor did I ask for them to be written – submissions are always welcomed with open arms but rarely solicited with the mood of the day prompting writers more than I could ever do – and I thought the second of the three was written in reaction to the first but nevertheless the idea was that there was a counterpoint I was wilfully ignoring.
I was failing to represent the “anti-Todd” side I was told.
The phrase mulled around my head on Friday night’s journey back from Manchester. “Anti-Todd” as if the other three articles had been personal aggrandiseations of the City boss rather than comments more on the merits of stability and of the manager’s performance. I dislike the phrase “anti-Todd” intensely – BfB is not a place for personal attacks – but poor phrasing is not enough to mask a growing voice around Valley Parade.
All of which was moot in any case. No article landed in the BfB inbox and went unpublished this week – only two have in six years – and as of this morning (Friday) nothing “anti-Todd” had been submitted.
Now counter-point has been received and is online for all to read. One columnist requested a screen name for his article a request we denied – we have a policy of not publishing in anonymity lest this site becomes like so many other dismembered floating voices of Message Boards without accountability for opinion which certainly Roland Harris has had this week – and I hope that in denying that request the article can still be published.
Nevertheless the verbalisation of the comments against Colin Todd’s management of the club has begun and is on BfB.
At BfB we often read comments about how a reader enjoys the site but does not understand why writer x gets column inches. The fact we throw the doors open to all opinions is a strength of the website and a strength I am proud of. Love or loathe BfB it is always going to carry the opinion of those who write for us. As Franklin said “Decisions are made by those who turn up.”
Opinion is good. Both comments are soft-tagged as “anti-Todd” but neither makes a personal attack on the man. They talk about how he does his job something we as City fans are free to – if not obliged to – comment on.
My personal opinion on Todd – the one which informs the majority of the news on this website – is that he needs to make some changes in how the team plays and could make more of the playing resources at the club. I believe that he is a man of some experience in football and a reasonable amount of flexibility which comes with having had many jobs and can make those changes in situ.
That is my opinion on Colin Todd. If Colin Todd were to give his views on this website and on websites in general I’m sure I’d give it the same weight he gives my comments on his job and rightly so.
However it is also right that those who have a grievance to air with Todd have a forum to do so – this forum – and use it to state considered opinion without anonymity.
Ultimately opinions voiced in what is one of the more trusted forums than most for football fans – well City fans – to air their views adds to a general pressure on Julian Rhodes and Colin Todd that suggests a change or a course of action. If the only way for supporters to suggest a course of action to Rhodes and Todd is to use the banner headline comments of manager sacking then it is sad and hints at an inflexible polarisation which should not be at any level in any football club but especially not this football club.
Should the pressure suggest a change to Todd – a change of tactics or picking policy – then so be it. Vox populi, vox Dei. It is right and proper that the supporters have a voice – no – a chorus of voices representing the differing opinions around Valley Parade – which is listened to.
Personally I hope that Colin Todd stays at Valley Parade – many of his ideas make sense to me – but it concerns me that after the lessons of the authoritarian years of Geoffrey Richmond’s time at Bradford City still the only way for a dialogue between club and supporters to exist is in calls for sackings.