Sunday, 18 March 2012

Round Table Discussion: Tackling Racism in Football

Round Table Discussion: Tackling Racism in Football

Hosted by:

The Consortium of Liverpool National Black & Anti-Racism Organisations


Liverpool Football Club & Local Leaders

            27th March 2012 6p.m. till 730.p.m.


The issue of racism in football has emerged as a matter of national concern. The events involving John Terry of Chelsea and Luis Suarez of Liverpool Football Club (LFC) are two of the most prominent incidents that have attracted worldwide attention. Behind the headlines lies the reality that behaviour seen on the pitch today is replicated by young people and fans throughout the country. The findings of the FA investigation into the racially abusive comments made by Luis Suarez were rejected by LFC. The black communities of Liverpool responded to both the Luis Suarez issue and the subsequent inept handling of the issue, by LFC with disappoint and anger. This was also felt by many residents in white communities within the city of Liverpool and beyond. The reputation of both the City and the Club, for its commitment to race equality was damaged as a result. In addition, it was believed by many, that the actions of LFC  was seen to be encouraging and promoting racism more generally.   

As a result a letter was sent to the club offering advice about how to better manage the situation. This advice was not taken or acknowledged. The Consortium of local black and national anti racist organizations then formed and wrote to LFC seeking a meeting to discuss how best we could all work together to address these issues and restore the reputation of both the City and the Club. The key aim was to help to reverse the promotion of racism among fans and wider society.

That offer has so far been refused with LFC insisting that they are working with a range of national diversity organisations that have no links or track record with working with Liverpool's black community. This is unacceptable. LFC also stated that they are also working with the Liverpool City Council to address these issues. This is to be welcomed. Councils play an important role in providing civic leadership in challenging racism however this cannot be at the expense of the active involvement of communities and partnership at a strategic level. This matter flagged up an urgent need for LFC, to move beyond their work at grass roots level with local black communities and respect the need for community involvement at a strategic level.

To facilitate further discussion around these important matters, the Consortium, comprising of local communities from diverse racial groups and national black and anti racist organizations, through their campaign, Love Football Hate Racism, has organised a national roundtable debate. This is an attempt to facilitate discussion, enhance accountability and promote partnership. Working between LFC and Liverpool's black community, the consortium seeks to provide effective and sustainable local and national leadership on these issues.

The Consortium has won support and admirers locally and nationally, most notably from the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd James Jones, who said;
“This is a hugely important issue and I am encouraged to know that you are taking the initiative to set up this discussion with Liverpool Football Club.”  

The Liverpool City Council has signed up and endorsed its commitment to points 3 and 4 of requests, in our statement of intent knowing that points 1 and 2 are not within their gift to do so.

The work effort, resources, human and physical is “big society” in action. The critics are growing fewer in numbers, daily, as we continue to win over hearts and minds and move closer to a sensible consensus on the way forward. The Consortium and its many supporters will continue to work to secure solutions; our lived experience and learned expertise can offer LFC and the city for the benefit of all of communities.

Round Table Discussion
Chairing this roundtable discussion will be Colin Parry OBE. Colin is a tireless campaigner for Peace and has become a prominent authority and speaker in the years following the IRA bombing in Warrington in which his son was killed. Following this tragic event, Colin and his wife Wendy founded the Foundation for Peace and created their unique Peace Centre in Warrington.
Colin was awarded the O.B.E in the Queen's birthday Honours list in 2004 and has received many other awards and accreditations including Rotary International's most prestigious award for 'World Understanding and Peace' before an audience of 10,000 in the Osaka Baseball Dome in Japan.

Invited guests to join the debate include:

                                               Councillor Joe Anderson- Leader of Council
                                           Jon Murphy- Merseyside Police Chief
                                           Mick Ord- Radio Merseyside
                                           Sir Terry Leahy- Business Rep
                                           Liverpool FC representatives (2)
                                           Simone Pound- Professional Footballers Association
                                           John Barnes- Former LFC Player
                                           MP Louise Ellman
                                           MP Steve Rotheham
                                           Councillor Anna Rothery
                                           Alistair Machray- Liverpool Echo
                                           Gloria Hyatt MBE- Teach Consultancy
                                           Eric Lynch- Slavery History Tours
                                           Earl Jenkins - Kingsley United
                                           Femi Sowende - Merseyside Black History   
                                           Alec Mc Fadden - Merseyside Coalition Against 
                                           Racism and Facism - Merseyside and TUC
                                           Simon Woolley - Operation Black vote
                                           Peter Herbert OBE - Society of Black Lawyers
                                           Lee Jasper- London Race and Criminal Justice
                                           Viv Ahmun- Core Plan UK
                                           Charles Critchlow - National Black Police Association
Others & Community        Arun Kang - Sporting Equals
                                            Sir Herman Ousely -Kick Racism Out Football
                                            TBC rep- Show Racism The Red Card
                                            Clare Dove MBE- Blackburne House
                                            Anthony Walker Foundation
                                            Michelle Charters - Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre

The roundtable will focus on three key issues; 

1.   How do we work with others to highlight and reduce racism in football in light of the LFC’s handing of the Luis Suarez incident and the issues as laid out in our statement of intent?

2.   What can football clubs do to challenge racism in football and join the debate about tackling racism in wider society?

3.  How do we move forward in partnership, taking into consideration the 4 requests made by the Consortium of Liverpool National Black and Anti-racist Organisations?

The Consortium’s Statement of Intent and Four Requests;
  • that LFC publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.
  • that LFC and Suarez publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.
  • that LFC in partnership with Liverpool and national black and anti-racist organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
  • that civic leaders in addition to LFC sign up to a public declaration reaffirming their commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through pro active actions.
Desired Outcome

Our focus is to ensure that Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool City Council and key leaders in the city
acknowledge the issue of racism and work in partnership strategically with Liverpool's black community and the Consortium in seeking to address these important issues. 

·         NB: We acknowledge that not all invited guests will be able to attend the debate though they may inform it.

 On Twitter follow @LFHRUK  

For further information about the consortium go to:

The Consortium of Liverpool National Black & Anti-Racism Organisations
Campaign: Love Football Hate Racism

Friday, 9 March 2012

FA director Heather Rabbatts interviewed for Telegraph - “Liverpool found themselves a lone voice"

John Terry had to be removed as England captain, says FA director Heather Rabbatts

Heather Rabbatts’s introduction to the Football Association board has not been a gentle one. At her first board meeting, the first woman to take a seat round the Wembley table found the toxic issue of John Terry’s England captaincy top of the agenda.

Heather Rabbatts - John Terry had to be removed as England captain, says FA director Heather Rabbatts
View from the top: Heather Rabbatts is the first woman to be appointed to the FA board Photo: GEOFF PUGH

(First published at:
Even for a businesswoman with Rabbatts’s breadth of experience it was a challenging start to a new role.

Having been appointed as one of two independent non-executive directors — businessman Roger Devlin is the other — she might have anticipated a quieter initiation. But where some might have taken a softly-softly approach while they got their feet under the table, Rabbatts had no hesitation.

Once Terry’s trial on charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was adjourned until after Euro 2012, in her mind the FA’s course was obvious. Informed by her heritage — she is of mixed race, born to a Jamaican mother — and her diverse business background, she argued that Terry’s captaincy was untenable.

If chairman David Bernstein had any doubts about standing Terry down, Rabbatts’s counsel would have helped ease it.

As a result she is associated with the most contentious decision the FA has taken in some time, but there are no regrets. It was, she says, a matter of leadership.

“It is not rocket science, given who I am, that this was an issue that I would feel strongly about,” she says, in her first extensive interview since taking the FA role."

“The principle of innocent until proven guilty is absolutely paramount. But in other walks of life, if an employee who carries additional reputational responsibilities is subject to charges, they are suspended."

“Given the FA’s policies and priorities, and given the reputation that the England captain absolutely has to stand by, it was not appropriate for him to be captain. I think the board and in particular the chairman showed leadership. It is a decision the board can stand by.”

Leadership is a theme of conversation with Rabbatts, who has wide experience from a diverse career.

Her CV includes spells as chief executive of Lambeth Council, deputy chairman of Millwall, and directorships at the BBC, the Bank of England, the Royal Opera House, Crossrail and her own media company Shed Media.

This mix of experience, and a lifetime’s interest in football from grass-roots to the professional game, including a long commitment to anti-racism campaign Kick It Out, led the FA to appoint her.

“English football is a pretty heady cocktail. It comprises business dynamics, it is a massive entertainment industry, it is a national passion and it is political. I am strange in that I have worked in all those different sectors."  

“I felt I brought a pretty unique skill-set in terms of what the FA is trying to achieve. I am also a woman and I am mixed race. So I think I bring an additional lens.”

Inevitably in a season scarred by racist incidents, her perspective on the issue is informative. She is encouraged by the progress the English game has made, but says more has to be done.
Liverpool’s at times blind support for Luis Suárez dismayed her, though diplomacy restricts her to a limited comment.

“Liverpool found themselves a lone voice, and the fact they found themselves a lone voice says it all. But the reaction to Suárez and other incidents demonstrates how committed many millions of fans are to stamp this out.”
She identifies the double-edged sword of social media as an area of concern:

“Social media is a fantastic way of connecting to people, but some black players are being racially abused because people think they are anonymous on Twitter. The chants on the terraces are not replaced by abuse on social media, but it is creeping in. You can’t stop moving [on racism] because it changes.”

Increasing diversity at the top of English football, particularly among the next generation of coaches, will be a priority. Her logic for broadening the talent pool is not ideological but practical.

“There was a time when great English managers managed European clubs. Jose Mourinho learned his trade under a great English manager [Sir Bobby Robson]. It is almost impossible to imagine that happening today.

One of my objectives is to ensure that we have the calibre of coaches and future managers who are in demand. To do that you have to have the best of talent, and that talent comes from all different parts of this country.

There are precious few candidates that one talks about for very senior high-profile jobs. Wouldn’t it be nice in future to say we have the choice of five or 10 candidates for those roles?”

Selecting the next occupant of the highest profile job of all, England manager, is the next major decision for the FA board. Rabbatts is clear that whoever it is should be English, or at least appreciate the particular dynamics of the English game.

“It is preferable [to have an English manager] though we don’t rule out someone who isn’t. But it is important that it is someone who understands the English DNA of the game. Each country has its own culture. We have ours, and it’s a massive part of this country’s psyche, so you do have to get it.”

Of course there would have been no appointment to make had the board, influenced in part by Rabbatts, not taken such decisive action over Terry, prompting Fabio Capello to walk. Despite the unintended consequences, she stands by it.

“You make the right decisions for the right reasons. Ultimately what it comes back to is leadership, and the chairman and this board making the right decisions for the good of the game. We stand by it, and we move forward.”

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Steve Rotheram MP responds to our complaint re: Twitter comments

Office of Steve Rotheram MP
                                                                                                                                House of Commons
                                                                                                                                SW1A 0AA

Dear Zita
I am responding to your email of 5th March 2012 regarding your letter of formal complaint to Right Honourable Ed Miliband MP.
Can I first of all say that I am proud that one of the first groups I joined when entering Parliament was Show Racism the Red Card. In fact I specifically asked Ed as the newly elected Leader of the Labour Party for a picture to launch my new website over 12 months ago holding my SRtRC pack (see below). I have taken part in SRtRC events both in Parliament and at a fundraising football match at Stamford Bridge last year.
The Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra incidents have caused great distress to many people on both sides of the argument which unfortunately descended into football tribalism. Even John Barnes, a pioneer against racism in football, has been criticised by some for supporting Liverpool FCs stance on the issue. Before the two most recent games against Manchester United, Derek Twigg MP and I met with Club officials to highlight our apprehension that the toxicity of events could spiral out of control and endanger the safety of supporters from both Clubs. We also explained our concerns at the way in which the Club had handled matters.
I believe that some of the comments on social networking sites and other fora from a minority of supposed supporters based on race hate, have been disgraceful and should lead to those responsible being prosecuted. The press (other than locally) have been scathing of LFC/Suarez and their handling of the whole affair.
However, both Clubs agreed to draw a line under the matter, but there are some who would like to perpetuate the myth that Liverpool is a racist City and that LFC is a racist club for totally nefarious motives. This has been damaging to our reputation.
I have therefore been cautious about reigniting something that appeared to have been diffused (and I’m talking about the LFC/MUFC aspect here). I am not saying that there aren’t racists in Liverpool. I fought the BNP in the Fazakerley Ward who tried to stir up racial hatred, citing jobs at Aintree Hospital Trust being given to ‘immigrants’, which resulted, when I confronted a gang of them, in my own house and two young daughters being targeted by a group of BNP sympathisers with loud hailers.
I am also certain that despite improvements over the last 20-odd-years, racism in football still exists and despite a reduction in overtly racist behaviour (such as racist chants) I am in no doubt that racism persists in the mind, both within football clubs and on the terraces. Just because someone no longer says/shouts it, doesn’t mean they are not still thinking it.
Last week I responded to tweets I received complaining about an on-line petition allegedly tarnishing Liverpool and LFC. I certainly should have been more circumspect, although in my overly simplistic response to concerns raised, I did not refer to either; any particular petition, or to any specific group. I did admittedly generalise about peopleintent on causing trouble’ with regard to the Suarez/Evra situation. I did not suggest that racism itself should be ignored (obviously) and can’t believe that anyone who knows me, follows me on Twitter or has paid attention to the work I have done as an MP around sport and the governance/behaviour of clubs and fans, would interpret my comments thus.
However, people had voiced their concern that the terms of an on-line petition were perpetuating the misperception of the Club and our City as being racist. It was this particular aspect that I (clumsily) suggested should be ignored.  For any offence that I have caused, I unreservedly apologise.
There are several e-petitions that I have been asked to sign, for example requesting the FA to reopen the case against Luis Suarez given new evidence by linguistic specialists and sports lawyers, or ones that are critical of Patrice Evra’s behaviour, that I have (rightly) ignored, but there are some people that take every opportunity to have a go at scousers and knock our city, and I should have been more careful to check whether your on-line petition was similar to others posted. For misinterpreting your aims, once again I apologise.
As you will know, you only get 140 characters to put into context your thoughts on Twitter and I agree that my tweet (in hindsight) is, at best, awkward. Perhaps I would have been better emailing my wider beliefs on Racism in Football with a link to my website, which I regret not doing. In no way was what I tweeted meant to be insulting. I apologise.
In fact, so concerned was I about the whole issue of racism in football following the two high profile cases (Suarez/Evra and Terry/Ferdinand), that I secured a session for the DCMS Select Committee to look into the issue so that we could scrutinise the wider concerns; ensure that progress on tackling racism be continued and guarantee vigilance against complacency. It was due to take place today, but was unfortunately postponed due to the requirement for the Select Committee to complete the phone hacking report. I have been liaising directly with SRtRC to ensure that their evidence is heard.
Let me be absolutely clear; I have supported the two largest anti-racism campaigns, Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card, in my role as a Liverpool City Councillor, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton and as a football fan. I am a former PCS rep and my commitment to helping, wherever possible, to the eradication of racism in football, sport and society in general is real and I wouldn’t knowingly cause offence on such an important issue. If I did, then quite simply I AM SORRY.
Yours sincerely
Steve Rotheram

Monday, 5 March 2012

The new and emerging face of racial discrimination - by Gloria Hyatt MBE

Oldham FC player Tom Adeyemi allegedly being racially abused at the FA cup tie by a Liverpool FC fan in Anfield

I struggle like many in the modern age to pin point exactly when I am being confronted by racism, due to the new and emerging subtleties and sophistication involved in the act of racism. The linking of historical atrocities to the continued importance of economic and cultural factors in today’s societies is becoming increasingly blurred as we are now forced to analyse the use of characters, who (Pepe Reina, for example) now feature in reinforcing negative 'black' stereotypes  in an attempt to be humorous and sell a product.
 First we must contextualise and understand, in both Spain and most of Latin America it is a cultural norm that the lighter your skin tone, in terms of your blackness, the greater your status is. Greater, is also, the likelihood, that you will find a brown skinned person, (who in the UK, would be considered by many, as black and of African heritage), undermining a darker skinned person. The Suarez comment, supported by his countries (Uruquay) president, “I don’t speak to Black people” is a high profile case that demonstrates this point.

The depiction of Pepe Reina, in the Groupama Seguros –Insurance company advert, being given to the blackened up African king, for sexual purposes  with Pepe a brown skinned man who’s name equates to queen in his county, being presented by the black man, demonstrates this reality also. The blacking up of white men, imitating what is heard as an African accent, in the advert, with Reina, harks back to a time, when black African people were not considered to represent anything beyond what was considered to be an 'uncivilized' African culture. And to add further, not considered fit to be true representatives of their entire or positively civilized African cultural identity.

Groupama commercial
 In the advert we are shown the white and blackened up representative and its brown skinned queen, supposedly all in good humour. This level of subtle racism, may escape the historical memory of those who know better, or the informed or educated mind who wish to understand better. It cannot however and should not escape any one of us, that such choice of words, representations of a identity, culture, ethnicity and actions, only serve to portray all things black and African as less than, undesirable and something to be laughed at.
What disturbs me most, as a woman of African heritage, who has the skin colouring of both Suarez and Reina, is the connection both these incidents have to the city of Liverpool, its football club and the long established residency of people like me who have an African heritage.  A community of people, who now, may be visibly described, as white skinned or light brown skinned, brown eyed or blue eyed, fair haired or blond haired people. A group of people incidentally, that in my father's Jamaican culture was known as being able to 'pass’ or in my mother’s Irish culture known by the ethnic slur of ‘blackie or darkie.’  
Simply speaking it was and is still perceived in many cities and countries around the world, that people who fit this description are more acceptable to white culture and people, given a higher status, and at times able to bypass racism. In addition it was believed this could be used for their own ends in some of the ways we have seen it played out in Spain and the Latin American countries and more recently the two players in Liverpool Football Club through Suarez and Reina.
LFC seem determined to not acknowledge the role, their cultural practices and their ethics has had in what has been a catalogue of errors in their management of issues around race and racism. They seem uninterested in admitting to their error, let alone apologizing, understanding or learning from it. 
 It will be at humanities peril, mentally, physically, emotionally and economically, especially for the descendents of African people if we ignore or minimize the reality of this new and emerging form of racial discrimination, A discrimination, packaged as an acceptable cultural norm, that one should dismiss, consider as humorous or just part of LFC’s acceptable culture that should go unchallenged.
This abuse is an affront to the proud tradition of racial integration and cohesion in the city of Liverpool, which all fans or non supporters should be rightly concerned about. We really must become involved in understanding the cause and reasons why we find our city at the centre of such behaviour with no civic or political leader being prepared to make a stand. We have to start talking seriously about race, honestly and constructively to seek to resolve what many continue to conveniently deny in the city of Liverpool and beyond.   
Gloria Hyatt MBE
Education Consultant and Executive Coach.
Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Anti- Racism Organisations

Formal complaint re: Steve Rotheram MP

Love Football, Hate Racism UK - Twitter: @LFHRUK

5 March 2012
Mr Ed Miliband MP
House of Commons
Open Letter, sent by email

Dear Mr Miliband,

I am writing to you with a formal complaint about a member of your party, Mr Steve Rotheram, MP.
As both a trade union and community activist I have campaigned against racism all my life. I am a member of the PCS Union National Executive Committee, the TUC Race Relations Committee and co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, a national organisation established to campaign against the disproportionate impact of cuts on black workers, service users and communities, as well as a member of the Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Minority Organisations.The Consortium has raised concerns about the handling of the Suarez and Evra affair through a letter to Liverpool Football Club and establishing the campaign Love Football Hate Racism. We established an online petition details of which you can access here:

The petition has four key demands as follows:
We the undersigned call on Liverpool Football Club to meet four key demands;
(1) Publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.
(2) Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez to publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.
(3) In partnership with Liverpool and national black and minority ethnic organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
(4) Together with civic leaders sign up to a public declaration reaffirming commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through proactive actions.
On Friday 2nd of March 2012 some Liverpool fans tweeted their opposition and criticism of the petition and the authors of the petition and called on people to ‘educate’ us.
On the same day one of these individuals tweeted @ Steve Rotheram MP ‘Hi Steve I think you should look at the rather dodgy labelling of Liverpool city on this online petition’. He included a link to the petition and went on to tweet to Mr Rotheram, ‘it’s basically tarnishing both the city and LFC as racist. Dangerous’
Mr Rotherham tweeted in response also on the 2nd of March ‘Lads you can’t stop people intent on causing trouble from this sort of action other than ignoring them’
I have taken screen shots of both tweets should you require them. My complaint is about Mr Rotheram’s blatant disregard of the serious issue of racism and concerns raised about racism. Petitions are widely used tools in campaigning that are recognised, raise wider awareness of issues and can bring about positive results. The fact that Mr Rotheram regards me as someone who is intent on causing trouble by setting up a petition is of grave concern. By branding me and others involved in the campaign as trouble makers he is demonstrating that he does not see racism as an issue and if he has a different opinion does not believe in engaging, communicating and working to resolve issues.
I am concerned that as a member of parliament representing a diverse constituency he believes that anti racists and those who campaign against racism are intent on making trouble and believe that his expression of those views on a public forum such as Twitter bring the Labour Party and its values into disrepute and that he is acting irresponsibly as a member of Parliament. MPs are supposed to engage and take seriously the concerns of their constituents. Whilst I am not personally a constituent several members of the consortium and members of the communities they represent are residents in Liverpool the city that Mr Rotheram’s constituency is based in. Racism in football is a serious issue which must be tackled rather than ignored as Mr Rotheram has suggested. When discrimination is not addressed it empowers those who discriminate and leads to increased discrimination as we have seen recently with a rise in racism at football matches.
In addition to the petition already mentioned in this letter our campaign has submitted a petition aimed at government, which is currently awaiting approval, calling for a parliamentary debate on racism in football.
I am requesting that you raise my concerns with Mr Rotheram and seek an apology for his comments and call on him to engage with anti-racist organisations such as Love Football Hate Racism, Kick it Out, Show Racism the Red Card and others with a view to working to meet the aims of our petition and to campaign against racism in football, communities and society.
Yours sincerely,
Zita Holbourne
On behalf of the Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Minority Organisations

Update: response from Steve Rotheram MP:

Friday, 2 March 2012

NO to RACISM AT LIVERPOOL FC - Please sign E-petition

Published by Love Football Hate Racism on Mar 01, 2012
Please sign petition at:

We have grave concerns about the inadequate responses of Liverpool Football Club to the findings by the FA regulatory commission that determined Luis Suarez was guilty of racially insulting the Manchester United player, Patrice Evra.

Football is a unifying sport providing pleasure and entertainment to billions of people across the planet. Young people from every corner of our world passionately support their team. Football players are held in high regard and viewed as positive role models.

Clubs, players and managers have an important and globally recognized responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to the principle of common decency and fair play. Throughout the world, both on and off the football pitch they inspire and socially educate billions of young people who admire and mimic their actions.

The issue of racism in football is one that requires unambiguous anti racist leadership. The actions of LFC in the run up to and following the publication of the FA’s findings fell short of the high standard of leadership expected for a team of their standing in the football community.

LFC actions, in vehemently rejecting the findings of the FA inquiry, their public displays of support for a player found guilty of racist abuse and his subsequent refusal to shake the hand of Evra at a recent game is completely unacceptable. These actions we believe could be considered as inciting racial intolerance.

Whilst the subsequent apologies for the failure to engage with the traditions of a pre game “hand shake” are to be welcomed, there remains deep concern, about LFC’s absolute refusal to accept the findings of the FA’s investigation. As such these apologies fail to meet the test of genuine remorse and understanding. This is further negated by LFC’s failure to apologise for racism either through the club or Suarez.

Neither have LFC recognised or acknowledged the consequent damage to race relations resulting from their actions and recognised by many people of all races across the country. As a result, efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general have been critically undermined.

Compounding these serious errors is the failures of Liverpool’s civic leaders, many of whom have remained silent on these critical issues and have failed to publicly condemn LFC’s decision not to robustly and effectively challenge racism.

Such is the overwhelming power of the Premier League and the influence of clubs such as LFC it is imperative that this situation cannot be allowed to stand.

The international reputation of Liverpool as a city committed to race equality is at stake. In addition there is a real and urgent need to restore confidence in the campaign against racism in football, both here, in the UK and across the world.
Petition details:
We the undersigned call on Liverpool Football Club to meet four key demands;

(1) Publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.

(2) Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez to publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.

(3) In partnership with Liverpool and national black and minority ethnic organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.

(4) Together with civic leaders sign up to a public declaration reaffirming commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through proactive actions.

Groupama and the poison of racism - Pepe Reina in racially stereotypical advert

For background to this article please read:

Groupama and the poison of racism [2.7391304347826]

The international insurance company Groupama and Liverpool and Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina have both shamed themselves in the making of the racially stereotypical television advert that depicts Reina meeting a Black “tribe” in a jungle scene, which is both racist and homophobic.

Groupama commercial
 For centuries, Black people have been forced to endure and live with a viscerally poisonous caricature. History is replete with examples of crude and negative racist stereotypes depicting Africans as cannibalistic savages. In this imagery, Africans are usually portrayed as subhuman, violent and dangerous simpletons usually wearing grass skirts with the obligatory bone through the nose.

The other powerful image is the persistent White association of Black people with monkeys. The inference being Black people are more closely related to apes than to modern man. The cultural resonance of these types of stereotype are so powerful, I bet even as you read this you can see these mental pictures in your head.

There is a view within the UK’s Black communities that we are increasingly expected to laugh at such examples of racism in the name of tolerance. God forbid that Black people should react or publically complain should they have the temerity to do so, their complaint will be routinely dismissed as “having a chip on your shoulder”.

If they are public figures they will be lambasted by sections of the printed press and will undoubtedly face an avalanche of racism from the UK’s growing online Twitter Tea Party tendency.

As you would expect, Black people are naturally reluctant to collude with our own oppression in a society t
hat arrogantly and falsely assumes that Britain is a “post-racist society”. Such denial is the stock response to any accusation of racism in the UK.

To date, neither Liverpool FC, nor Reina has issued a statement on this issue. No doubt they are in denial, hoping this issue will blow over. The club has made that mistake before. It is bizarre that they seem to be determined to repeat the mistakes of the past in relation to this latest incident.

Their reported stance can be summarised as ‘what the player does off the field is nothing to do with the club’. This, of course, is complete and utter nonsense and reinforces the growing perception of LFC as a club that is failing to take racism seriously.

Here is some free advice for LFC: Ensure Pepe Reina gives an immediate explanation and apology. As a gesture of remorse and by way of repairing the damage done, Reina should donate the fee he received for the advert to an anti-racism charity. End of.

What starts off as Reina’s extra-curricular earner or a ‘bit of fun’, ends up as racial chanting on the terraces.
The persistence of racism in sport and advertising affects us all. In particular, Black footballers, Black fans, Black politicians and activists and communities are all forced to endure the ignominy of such ignorant portrayals and the on-going right-wing backlash that follows any attempt to raise the issue of racism. And yet what children see players doing today, they do on the streets tomorrow.

The fact that these cruel and archetypal racist stereotypes persist to this day is significant. Such is the all-pervading power of racism and the prevalence of graphic, racist propaganda dressed up as advertising. These derogatory images of Africans are globally recognised and instantly understood by millions across the world.

In both Europe and the UK, Black people have faced serious abuse and at times, deadly violence when faced with groups of White youth infected by such imagery. Such stereotypes are grossly offensive and extremely dangerous.

The last few months has seen the issue of racism in football splashed on the front and back pages of the British press. Liverpool Football Club’s disgraceful handling of the Luis Suarez affair saw a combination of racial abuse and ungentlemanly conduct inflame racial tension on the terraces. Black leaders from Liverpool and across the country wrote in protest at the clubs action, describing Liverpool FC's inept handling of the Suarez matter as “inciting racism”.

Prime Minister David Cameron called a summit of the resurgent phenomena of racism in the national game. As the economy continues to stall and unemployment rise, there is growing anecdotal evidence that the violent racism and bigotry is on the rise across Europe and the UK.

As we approach the European Championships in Eastern Europe, whose record on tackling extreme, violent racism is abysmal, the Football Association, English clubs and FIFA need to send a strong and unambiguous message to players and clubs that racism will not be tolerated in the beautiful game.

My advice is that Black football fans should not attend the EURO 2012 games without absolute assurances from the UK and FIFA that they will not be subject to racial violence and or abuse.
Liverpool Football Club needs to support the efforts of the FA to challenge racism and take real action to provide a national lead in tackling racism.

Lee Jasper

Thursday, 1 March 2012

OBV campaigns successfully to ban the racist Pepe Reina Ad

Another Liverpool player Pepe Reina in race row [1.5217391304348]

(From OBV 28 Feb 2012

Another Liverpool player Pepe Reina in race row

We sometimes forget to our peril the battles we have fought here in the UK against racism and racial stereotyping.

Most of the readers of this article will not remember seeing the type of derogatory stereotyping in cinema and TV advertising, which at the time was not only common place but won awards and acclaimed fame. For example, some 40 years ago the cigarette company Benson and Hedges commissioned the nations number one advertising company Saatchi and Saatchi to make a film for the Silk Cut brand. So prestigious was this account that mini-films with huge budgets would be made. One film in particularly paraded the British Film the Zulu’s.

‘ At the height of the Mbongo uprising a garrison of 80 were surrounded by 30,000 hostile warriors’, Queue a blackened up actor with a plumy English voice dressed as Zulu warrior extolling the virtues of the cigarette brand before threatening to put the English warriors in the ‘pot’.

Many of us thought these types of videos would be consigned to the museum of very bad taste. Not so. Today in Spain Groupama Seguros –Insurance company- are running a similar distasteful ad in a tribal scenario in which once again a blackened up ‘African king’ speaking in native tongue is presented with the -and you couldn’t make this up-Liverpool and Spanish international goalkeeper Pepe Reina- Reina in Spanish means Queen. So the joke is the African –eye rolling homosexual –King chooses his Queen, Pepe Reina, who looks to the camera for help to check his insurance.

All very funny if you live in the dark ages and you have no idea or don’t care just how offensive this is. But I’m afraid that’s Spain and much of Latin America too. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that the former Spanish football manager Louis Aragones  was outraged, and refused to pay a paltry fine for calling Thierry Henry, for no good reason, ‘ Negro de  mierda’. ‘ …Black  shit’. More recently the Uruguay President defended Luis Suarez , for saying, among other comments, ‘No hablo con negros’ . I don’t speak to Black people’.
Despite these shockingly disrespectful ads and comments much of Spain and most of Latin America would argue that there is no racism in their countries. Well I guess on one level if you don’t acknowledge it, you have nothing to confront. But one can only be surprised at Liverpool's  Pepe Reina, who has lived in the UK for a long and is acutely aware of how his  football club has been  embroiled in an unnecessary and protracted  race row.
OBV has contacted the company via their publicist to make an official complaint.
I guess it just goes to show just how far we have come here in the UK.
Simon Woolley

 OBV force Spanish multinational to pull racist ad

(From OBV 29th Feb 2012

OBV have learned that Spanish multinational insurance company, Groupama, which has a subsidiary here in the UK, has pulled one of its adverts currently showing in Spain that depicts Black people, in a jungle scenario as stupid, backward, animalistic homosexuals.

Sadly, however, the group go on to say,
“Groupama Seguros does not consider that this advert contains either offensive nor any discriminatory content.”

The advert which stars Liverpool and Spanish international goalkeeper Pepe Reina, plays on his surname Reina-which is translated to Queen in English. In the ad the blackened up chief chooses Reina, the Queen, as his partner in a lustful manner.

 OBV’s Director Simon Woolley said,
“I’m shocked on so many levels. Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals? Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina? The Liverpool goalkeeper has lived and worked in the UK for nearly a decade, does he think it’s ok characterise Black people this way? Does he think his Black team mates will laugh at his joke?”
Given that Liverpool football club is trying to move forward from the Suarez affair, it is a shame that another one of their players has caused offence, by appearing in an advert that seems to come from a bygone era. Those who are old enough might remember those despicable Benson and Hedges Silk Cut Zulu ads of the 1970’s."

(Update from OBV March 1 2012)

There has been a lot of heat generated from OBV complaining about a Spanish TV ad starring Pepe Reina. Many bloggers on national websites have been outraged that our organisation should say, ‘this demeaning portrayal of Black people in Africa is not acceptable’. Many comments have been very abusive. But few writers have taken a step back and tried to objectively unpick and understand what is being played out in regards to this ad and what it means in Spain and here in the UK

Pete Jenson writing for the Independent has had a go. Whilst you might not agree with everything he says he has nonetheless written a very thoughtful piece.
Simon Woolley

'It is Alf Garnett humour, and Spanish still think it's funny
In 2004, when Spanish club Getafe's supporters were accused of racist abuse, their president, Angel Torres, offered to make his players black up for a game to prove the club was not racist. He was being serious.
It should be pointed out that Torres also proposed that any supporter found making racially abusive comments be banned for life. His intentions were good but, seen through the eyes of people with a different cultural and socio-political history, his idea was hideous.
Pepe Reina's advert for insurance is the kind of thing that would have been screened on British television about 20 years ago, probably while the Alf Garnett series In Sickness and In Health was airing on the other channel. Today anyone coming up with the idea at a brainstorming session would have been getting their coat before you could say "crude racial stereotype".
The question is: should the Spanish be allowed to define and redefine their own perimeters of what is and is not acceptable, taking on board the opinions and complaints of their own ethnic minorities, or do groups from outside the country's borders have a duty to tell them what is and is not acceptable?
In the advert the Liverpool goalkeeper Reina is introduced to the king of an African tribe. The person presenting him to the king says: "Great white man – Pepe Reina." Then the king says something which is translated to Reina as: "The boss says 'you Reina [meaning queen in Spanish], he Rey'" (king in Spanish). The king then says something else and when Reina asks: "And what does that mean?" the interpreter shakes his head worryingly and a spearholding tribesman puts a crown on to Reina's head and shuffles him forward towards the king – the inference being that he will have to marry the king. Reina utters the advert's catchphrase: "Me siento seguro", which translates as: "I feel secure".' The word seguro also means insurance.
Whether the ad for the multi-national insurance firm Groupama really depicts black people as "animalistic homosexuals", as Operation Black Vote suggests, is highly debatable. It's Benny Hill humour with a silly play on the fact that Reina's name means queen in Spanish. The tribal king is the fool in the story – in another of the adverts from the same series the joke is on the Spanish, with Reina sat on a coach being asked for his autograph by a fan, who turns out to be the coach driver who has left his mother at the wheel – Reina utters his "I feel secure" catchphrase as the coach veers across the road. Women drivers could take offence at that one.
Of course, women drivers have never been enslaved and persecuted, and that maybe is the part that Spanish culture still does not get. Should Reina have got it, with his years of playing in England? The behind-the-scenes shots of him filming the advert have him joking with the black actors as he struggles to say his lines without laughing. He will be as surprised as the Spanish TV audience that the commercial has caused so much outrage beyond the country's borders.'

Pete Jenson writing for the Independent


Reina leaps to defence of Suarez - December 22, 2011 - Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina believes striker Luis Suarez has been "crucified'' over his racism charge.
Anti-racism campaigners attack Pepe Reina over 'stereotyped' African tribe advert

Pepe Reina in racism storm: A Spanish TV Commercial featuring Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina has been banned following complaints of racism and homophobia.

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