The Guardian’s Open Weekend: Part Two

March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

As mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend I went to the Guardian’s ‘Open Weekend’.

Aside from eating some wonderful food (the canteen has the best brownies in the world), entering a draw to win an iPad 3 and visiting a cheese-barge (yip, cheese on a boat) I went to four sessions.Two which were blog-worthy.

So, in Part One, I talked about the first session I went to, Clay Shirky in conversation with Alan Rusbridger.

Now, I bring you:

Part Two: Racism in Football  

I was particularly interested in this session after having written a feature on this very topic for my sports course just a few weeks ago.

The panel included Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson, pro-footballer Sol Campbell (aka Youtube sensation for longest-sliding tackle), BBC presenter & former footballer Garth Crooks and Guardian sport’s writer, David Conn.

Much of what was discussed and debated provided answers that didn’t surprise me: that racism continues to exist in football because it exists in society, how in previous eras, in the media (and in the locker-room) “it wasn’t worth making a big deal about” (Conn).

But it wasn’t all repetition (at least not for me) and I learnt new many new things during this talk.

‘Rooney Rule’

Like, for example, how in the States the NFL has the “Rooney Rule” which states that if a coaching position come available the league had to show that they’ve interviewed and considered at least one minority candidate.

England football has no such equivalent. And with only four black managers out of 92 professional clubs, perhaps they should.

But as Sol pointed out, as much as that movement has to come from the top, down, from the board of directors to the coaches and managers, more importantly, “the fans have to change their views” and give black managers a chance.

FC’s liable for ’employees’?  

A really interesting point to come out of this discussion was the point that with controversies like Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra, it has become glaringly apparent that football clubs and their managers are going to back their star players.

Even when they are in the wrong. Even when they are held responsible for their actions.

But what if, like any other company, FC’s were held liable for their player’s actions. What if they were fined for their player’s behaviour? What if managers, not just players, were the one’s to be side-lined?

This is what Garth Crooks brought up, saying “you’ve got to make FC’s responsible and liable for  their own employees.”

If FC’s were held liable, and ‘punished’ for unacceptable player behaviour, like racism, would they be so quick to stand behind their man? I, for one, think not.

It’s an interesting idea to engage in – but what are the chances of it happening? Not likely I think. At least not any time soon.

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