Racism is a relative rarity at football matches nowadays in this country. However, the recent BBC Wales documentary about the WDL (Welsh Defence League) succeeded in exposing that group as out-an-out racists. They claim to be defenders of the country ( meaning 'Britain', in whose name wars are fought) against what they see as the insidious influence of Islam.   Under the guise of Islamophobia and ganging together with the EDL (English Defence League), they're determined to find scapegoats in Muslims, who they lump together as extremists, much as the Irish were all identified with the Provos in the past. The WDL claim to be non-racist, yet many involved have links with Combat 18 and other Far Right groups. The leader is a so-called Cardiff City fan.

   Given the fact that in the Cardiff squad there is a Nigerian, a Hungarian, Chopra who qualifies for India, a couple of Irishmen and several Scots, the racist undercurrent is obviously absurd.

   The WDL represent a very small minority of supporters both at Cardiff and Swansea. It is a long time since I encountered any racism on the terraces at Cardiff and then it was down to a few individuals mouthing off.
When it comes to anti-Muslim sentiment I haven't heard any and our announcer Ali Yassine is a Muslim whose family came to Cardiff from Somalia. Ali is a Welsh speaker and a very funny man. He isn't afraid to court controversy either and once played Dylan's 'Ballad of a thin man' after a game we'd lost badly, when going through one of our frequent dips.
The lyrics, which pointedly accuse 'Mr Jones' landed him in trouble.

   My worst experience of racism at Cardiff was of the anti-Irish variety. Though I favoured the old Bob Bank, I occasionally sat in the Canton Stand.Frank Stapleton, the veteran Irish international, was playing and one man launched into him with a torrent of invective. I shouted out that we had our own Irish players and he should 'Shut up!'  It did seem to do the trick.

   Ironically, it was amongst the fans of Merthyr where I encountered far more racism. Ironically, because Merthyr is not only a town made up of immigrants from many countries such as Ireland, Spain and Italy, but it also has a reputation as a hot-bed of left-wing revolt.

   Yet every time I'd visit Penydarren Park, a section of the crowd would single out and pick on black opposition players. The worst example was when I travelled away to see Merthyr take on Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup and their black striker challenged the Merthyr keeper Gary Wager, breaking his leg. The amount of racist abuse was appalling! It must be said that Merthyr fans changed rapidly once they signed black players like Cohen Griffith, a popular ex-Cardiff striker who lived and worked locally.

   Homophobia, on the other hand, is quite another matter. The fanzine WTBF used to hold Player Of The Year get-togethers and at one I got to meet a well-known Cardiff player, who is now a radio pundit. He was scathing in his attacks on racism, but equally adamant in his condemnation of gay people.

   Only one footballer has ever come out and that was Justin Fashanu. Fashanu was publicly disowned by his footballing brother John and totally ostracized at Notts. Forest by that  'great' manager Brian Clough. I saw him play once against Cardiff City.

   The WTBF crew went to see us play Torquay away. I have written a story based on this called 'Dead Hero Silence' in my book 'Child of dust' (Gomer).

   That day Fashanu was subject to vile homophobic chants by so-called City fans. Like the rest of the 'zine crew, I was totally ashamed. When Fashanu scored it is the only time I have been delighted to see the other team scoring. Years later, Justin Fashanu committed suicide in the States and many see him as a victim of homophobia.

   As the rugby player Gareth Thomas has stated, there are undoubtedly more rugby and football players  who are gay and are having to live a lie because they fear the consequences of declaring their sexuality.

   The fight against racism on the terraces has come a long way, but the one against homophobia has barely begun. Regular abusive chants of 'rent boy' at visiting keepers and homophobic slurs at managers are unforgivably tolerated. There is a campaign called the Justin Campaign, but only when some prominent players actually come out and take a stand, will things begin to change.

                                WHAT YOU GONNA DO?

Ali's a Muslim,
what you gonna do?
shout him down
when he's on the p.a. summoning

Ali's CCFC through and through,
cut him he'd bleed white and blue,
a Cymro Cymraeg
both Bluebird and Adar Gleision,
so what you gonna do,
send him home.........to Grangetown?

Ali's played the Super Furries
'The Man Don't Give A Fuck!',
he's annoyed visiting fans
with songs about tractors and spreading muck,
he's put two fingers up
to the posho prawn sandwich lot -
let's face it, he gives a toss!

Ali's a Muslim,
what you gonna do,
kick his head in
for what he believes in ?

andrew herbert
01/15/2011 10:26

how can we all become more respectful of every individual regardless of colour,religion,wether they are gay or not,where they come from,disability,what they look like,young or old.we all must try,sometimes when life throws up its challenges we say things we should not,nobody in this world is superior to anyone else,we are all equals.

08/27/2012 19:10

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and created a Weebly account too.


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