To racism we should not kneel

Date: 23rd March 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Take a knee or stand still. No matter what you do, the fact is that people may well have moved on. It ought to be some form of real action. That would mean the stance taken would have meant something. We would have progressed beyond mere statements of intent.

We need real action, and the standard bearers of action should be those in authority.

And if action is ever needed then it is needed now.

Slavia Prague stand accused of having a player in their team, who, during a game of football, called another player, one of colour, a monkey. For that, Slavia Prague should shoulder responsibility and forfeit their place in the competition.

Anything less, is likely to come across as mealy mouthed and true kneeling in the face of difficult decisions.

Michael Stewart, however, who was schooled, or at least had the suggestion he should consult one, by Rio Ferdinand, was right to say that we should await the verdict of an investigation. The question is what should be the burden of proof to find the guilty, guilty?

To what standard should it be held? Beyond reasonable doubt? The criminal standard is where the racists and the bigot run because if you cannot prove I did it, ah didnae. The burden of proof should therefore only be the reasonable one. If a reasonable person can believe that this did or did not happen on the basis of the evidence presented, then the decision to be guilty or innocent rests with the organisation who is in charge – in this case UEFA. If we have criminal proof, then this will never be dealt with seriously. There shall always be a place to hide in “but can you prove it?”

The answer is, of course, that whilst we cannot prove it, the evidence is compelling, and a reasonable person would believe your guilt. Michael, this man is guilty.

The fact is that at some point in the second half, Ondrej Kudela, like a doubles tennis player, cups his hands over his mouth and mutters something to Rangers’ Glen Kamara. Kamara reacts with fury. There is little doubt that anybody who hides their mouth when speaking is only doing so because they wish not to be lip read. We live in a VAR/surveillance society. People who are innocent have nothing to hide. Guilty people have everything to hide, like everything they say.

This is not a penalty claim. This is not a red card incident. There is little or no reason for Kamara to react unless something has been said which is deeply offensive. Kamara was not trying to waste time, influence the referee or gain any form of sporting advantage. He was deeply and profoundly offended by what was said. That does not need a probe, nor an investigation.

Meanwhile the smoke that came with Slavia Prague filing an assault charge against Rangers in what they describe as a pre-meditated attack, is nothing short of risible. I believe there is already footage from the tunnel where this alleged assault took place that does more than cast doubt upon it.

Their statement read, “”The attack on player Ondrej Kudela was pre-meditated and planned, including deliberately covering the cameras at the scene of the incident. The brutal and crude attack was conducted with full intensity in order to injure and cause physical damage. The submission contains the names of witnesses, who, in addition to representatives of SK Slavia Praha, were also representatives of the UEFA delegation as well as Rangers FC coach Steven Gerrard.”

The incident on the park is bad enough. Should this be proven to be spurious, whether they have submitted it formally or not, they have forfeited the right to be part of any competition. UEFA must stand up.

The SFA and the SPFL should add their weight to the additional value placed upon Rangers’ protest by Glasgow Celtic who have joined with their bitter rivals in condemning the on field disgrace.

UEFA have announced an official probe.

What would be good is to stand up for the words on the cards this time and give racism the real red card by binning those who seek to use racism to further their own ends. A strongly worded statement from Scottish governing bodies that they are backing their member club would help.

Unless of course they think their member club, is wrong? Or they are acting in a manner unbecoming of an SFA/SPFL club in suggesting they back their player – even to the point that Kamara was offered the opportunity to leave the field of play by Rangers’ boss Steven Gerrard. Surely such action would be in contravention of some rule or other? Surely the very idea of running up the tunnel and pulling the players from the pitch would end with an official having a heated frenzy about decisions not being taken appropriately with the appropriate approval, no doubt filled in on the appropriate form. In triplicate.

But if we take the knee to this form of racism by showing a lack of ability to stand up when needed it means that all those who kneel and who stand are simply indulging in token nonsense in the fields whilst the terraces and the communities will be tasked with cleaning things up.

Unless of course, something real happens…

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