The past few days have highlighted that freedom of speech in football is actually discouraged. While the game has tolerated bad language and chanting for many years, its players are not allowed to express an opinion for fear it may rail against the authorities.
Let’s be frank, racism is still rife in football. Wearing a badge or t-shirt merely pays lip service to the desire to look politically correct. The cynic in me suggests that clubs setting up foundations that provide charitable donations – doubtless tax deductable – merely make them feel good about themselves.
Hypocrisy reigns in football. Go to a game and cast your eye on home supporters behind goals in their traditional ends, and watch them spend 90% of the game standing up. Then watch what happens when the away support stands – I have seen it at Chelsea this season – and they get warned that unless they sit down, they could be ejected from the ground. Total nonsense.
If Rio Ferdinand – who continues to make his point about “Antongate” – does not want to wear a t-shirt because of his personal views on the issue of racism, then so be it. He should not be obliged to wear that t-shirt and he is entitled to his own opinion. Get it – “own” opinion. When everyone in the team is ordered to wear a t-shirt they find inappropriate, then the freedom of the individual is at stake. I am no Ferdinand fan, far from it, but he’s got a point.
On the other side of the coin, Ferdinand, Jason Roberts and assorted other players, who feel that the Kick Racism Out campaign lacks gravitas, are merely making that issues worse.
And then we have Twitter. Social media is being used as a stick to beat people over the head, especially if you are a player involved in one of the controversial topics of the day. Why shouldn’t Ashley Cole, for example, complain about the FA – let’s face it, there’s a lot to complain about?
Cole’s another player who is difficult to like, but why should he be any different from anyone who wants to make a stand about something they don’t like. OK, the FA won’t like being abused, but as long as it is not blatantly offensive, and I am not sure Cole’s rant was especially offensive, certainly not compared to the script from “Antongate”, then where’s the [major] problem. Just listen carefully next time you go to a game – you will hear far worse on and off the pitch.
Cole and Ferdinand should know better than to expose themselves in this way, but they just happen to be high profile protagonists. The point I am making is, does getting paid vast sums of money mean that these players give up their rights to free speech? While some people might argue that it does, what right do people have to be quite so dictatorial? Try cleaning up the stadiums of Britain, I say.