The rise of racism in politics and football

UK immigration is higher on the political agenda than at any time I can remember since my childhood.

I grew up in Gravesend in the 1970’s and witnessed National Front marches where supporters were outnumbered by the local Sikh community who turned up on masse to beat down an ignorant minority.

In the 1979 general election my father voted for the National Front. Confused? maybe. A racist? possibly. Let down by the main political parties and swept along with the politics of the day that used immigration as a scapegoat to confront difficult political and economic questions? most definitely.

So in 2007 racism towards Asians has been replaced by eastern Europeans. The prime minister, Gordon Brown, himself has led from the front by demanding “British jobs for British workers.”

The tide has turned. I fear British politics is amidst a sea change and racism is about to hit centre stage, again.

I read an interesting article on the Independent Online today by Stephen King (managing director of economics at HSBC) Football, Migration & the Blame Game.

King quoted Liverpool and England football captain, Steven Gerrard speaking at the England football team press conference last week. Speaking about foreigner players playing in England he said:

“Something has got to happen otherwise there will be more and more foreigners and they will take over.”

More alarming was Reading manager Steve Coppell’s levelled comment: “There is a big danger that we stop producing quality young kids because of the amount of foreigners in the game. If foreigners do take over completely, it will affect the national team even worse than maybe it is now.”

Coppell is an intelligent, level-headed man who I have no doubt is not making a racist statement here. However, my concern is not so much of the comments themselves, as this is football and not politics. But how these simple comments can and will be taken completely out of context to fuel racial hatred.

Foreigners are already being blamed for the England football team’s failures. The influx of foreign players is stopping our white English lads from playing for the top English clubs! Does it not have anything to do with foreign players being more skillful?

Firstly, as a football fan, I want to watch the best players in the world play. I’m not interested in watching white players, black players, English players or Polish players. I simply watch the beautiful game because I love the game of football.

Secondly, to any stupid, ignoramus who you hear using the argument that the England football team is failing to win football games because of the amount of foreign players in the English Premiership, ask them why it was that England failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cup!


  1. There seems to be a sort of English “thing” going on, in life as in everything. Industry, liberalism, cricket, football, democracy, you name it.

    We first show the World how something is done. Like football (we defined the rules.) Then others catch up with us, learning from our imperfections along the way. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if you take the whole of humanity into account as being all equally entitled to try to succeed.

    I do not think we will win a major international footy title ever again. As for the 70s, we were just not very good. “Foreign” players now do seem these days to play better and run about more skilfully. They get injured less (why?) and are therefore “out” less often and for less time.

    But so what? We taught the world how to play. That is a grand achievement merely for itself, and it will stand.

  2. I doubt that the presence of so many imported players is the only reason why the England team is poor, but it does not require anyone to be a ‘stupid ignoramus’ (in fact, quite the opposite)to see that when entire top teams ‘buy’ foreign players instead of being required to ‘grow’ their own, the standard of those who qualify to play for this country must suffer.

    Certainly it is nice to have a top division with a selection of the best players in the world on display, but any team game is about far more than just skill; it is about having a side to support, and being able to identify with it. I cannot feel any enthusiasm for an ‘English’ club team full of Afro-Asian immigrants and foreign stars, or indeed an England team equally unrepresentative.

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