Rio Ferdinand in Talks to Set up Black Players Union to Tackle Racism

With all the cases of racism that have been highlighted recently; Rio Ferdinand and other key movers and shakers want to set up the equivalent of a Black Players union. It will be known as The Federation of Black Players. So is this the right thing to do?

In my personal view I believe that this is a retrograde step and could well set back our cause of inclusion, equality and diversity 20 years and possibly even further. I have a number of reasons for believing this and I will attempt to put these across as clearly as I possibly can.

As most people are well aware and I have mentioned in a previous blog, the definition of racism is an extreme dislike or even hatred of another person due to their skin colour, language or culture this usually results in the person or people with these characteristics being wronged against in some way because of the aforementioned characteristics.

In a lot of cases it means that people are marginalised and excluded, taunted or have physical crimes committed against them. We all know of horrific crimes that have been acted out in the past.

So, how can setting up a separate organisation solely for black players aid the cause of equality and inclusion? As I mentioned previously it is my firm belief that this course of action doesn’t. In fact I think that if anything, it will only serve to cause further divisions as other players may well feel that they do not have to focus on the racism issue as black players are sorting it out so to speak.

My second point is that there are already inclusive organisations trying to educate and rid us of these deplorable issues, such as ‘Kick it Out’ and ‘Give Racism the Red Card’. Rio Ferdinand may well feel that these organisations have not done enough to eradicate racism, but how does it solve anything by creating divisions and diluting the influence of anti-racism campaigners.

As a secondary point, “Kick it Out” was started by Shaka Hislop, the former Newcastle goalkeeper, who really hoped that he could educate people, so that other players would not experience the same racist abuse that he had endured. In his quest, he was supported by a white team mate (John Beresford) who has gone on record as saying that he had partaken in the racist abuse that emanated from the terraces. He is said to have been sickened by the level of abuse that Shaka had to put up with and threw his lot in with him.

We do have to understand that the funding “Kick it Out” receives is neglible and most of it comes from the FA, English Premier League and PFA. Why do players who have such strong opinions (I am not singling Rio Ferdinand out here) and significant influence in the game and society not do more to strengthen the existing organisations? It need not necessarily be by giving financial assistance either.

I do understand that wearing a t-shirt does not change someone’s opinion if they have racist beliefs, but it does show support for a worthy cause which can help in our quest of achieving equality and inclusion.

In conclusion, my challenge to Rio and others who are keen on setting up this divisive and exclusive organisation is to sit down with organisations like “Kick it Out “and devise a plan of action, giving a louder more influential voice and together let’s  really make racism a thing of the past.