A picture of the England under-20s squad eating was tweeted by the Daily Mail a couple of days ago and was accompanied by an article suggesting there is a racial divide in the team – and that there remains a schism in football in general.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) June 19, 2015
The caption beneath the photo asked the question, “What does it say about race in Britain today?”
If you click to read the article, you’ll read a frankly ridiculous argument that suggests that ‘subconsciously’ players divide into race groups, and that it suggests that there is still ‘work to do’ in order to address the race issues in football.
My opinion on the matter? The main problem with racism and football is that the media is utterly desperate to suggest that there are issues, when in most cases, there aren’t.
Now, just to be clear, I am not suggesting that football is completely free from racism; but what I am suggesting is that these photos mean absolutely nothing.
Whilst there may be racism on the terraces on occasion, and sometimes on the pitch, there is quite clearly not a systemic problem between white and black footballers.
With a massively multicultural mix of footballers in the Premier League, every single week we watch games that indicate no divide, cultural or otherwise, between black and white footballers.
Just because one reporter has taken an opportunity to post one picture and make some wild and unfounded accusations about a group of footballers, it does not mean that we need to suddenly re-examine where we’re at here in the UK.
The saddest aspect of all of this is that the media appear absolutely desperate to create controversy. Understandably, they want to create the headlines that drive the purchases (or clicks in this 21st-century world), but good journalism is not based upon distortion and controversy.
Good journalism is based upon truly understanding the game and the culture around the game. This latest smear campaign from the Daily Mail is a world away from that. I shouldn’t be surprised, and I’m not. But I am saddened.
Having come so far, these ridiculous stories have the potential to undermine all the progress this country has made in relation to football and racism, and the journalists who write them need to think very carefully before pressing ‘publish’. They are not reporting the problem; they are the problem.