Antonio’s racism punishments would really hurt

Michail Antonio wants to see ‘games behind closed doors’ and points deductions as punishments for racism in football.

The Hammers were recently forced to make what should be an unnecessary club statement against racism following an incident when vile abuse was directed at Mo Salah during the Liverpool game.

And there have been other examples elsewhere to the sort of disgusting behaviour which has too often dragged the game back to the unenlightened 60s and 70s  with repeats of banana skins being thrown onto the pitch.

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang was the victim of that whilst Raheem Sterling has also been racially abused this season.

That it should be Antonio who has made his feeling clear on the sort of punishments required is no surprise as he has always told it as it is on a wide variety of subjects.

And although culprits are caught and punished he clearly believes that wider punishments which would affect the game at large will help people to stop and consider their actions before giving way to their base feelings. He’s right in our view.

The Hammers star said:  “Finding an individual does nothing. That one person, okay, he gets banned for life but to be honest no one has a picture of his face. He can get back into the stadium.

“If you affect their team – these fans love their team – the fans, his friends, are going to turn on him. If you start playing games behind closed doors and deducting points, then the problem is inside themselves. They are going to deal with it themselves.”

He made his comments on Sky Sports where the broadcaster had released data claiming 86% of football fans that regularly attended games in the UK have witnessed racial incidents, while that figure rises to 93% for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic supporters.

Antonio said:  “86 per cent is quite high to be honest – I wouldn’t have said 86. I would have said more in the 40s but I put it down to ignorance more than anything else.

“I feel like it is getting worse but I’m not going to blame the English leagues. I would blame the FA and UEFA because I don’t feel like they’re strict enough when it happens.

“Racism can be stopped in football stadiums but it all depends on what the FA and UEFA want to do about it. If they want to hammer down on it next season, it could take five or 10 years [to eradicate].

About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

13 comments on “Antonio’s racism punishments would really hurt

  1. He’s quite right. Rather than displaying strength as the overseers of the game, the FA, UEFA and FIFA have become toothless politicians looking to maintain the status-quo and pick up fat pension cheques. When was the last time anyone in any of these organisations truly stood up and said “This is an international, inclusive game that has no place for those who judge another human based on their race, colour or creed, and we just won’t stand for it.”

    Until these ridiculously small, arbitrary fines and pathetic bans are replaced with hard-hitting no-nonsense punishments that start hitting the elite, and us fans where it hurts, absolutely nothing will change.

    Good on you, Michail.

  2. I don’t have any problem with his comments, I think we have made big strides in UK on racism but when you look at the some parts of the eastern block, Turkey, Italy, Spain the problem is still rife and requires a better or more creative solution than what is currently happening. In theory education should be the way forward but those culpable have to want to change their ways otherwise its just like prisoners who do all the courses to lighten their sentence and then go out an reoffend.

  3. So is Antonio (and now, it seems C&H) really suggesting that, as a result of having one idiot shouting abuse at Mo Salah as happened the other week, West Ham should be docked points and possibly have to play their next home game in an empty stadium?

    That if one or two people out of 55,000 happen to use a racial epithet as part of their routine sledging, we get deducted points and the other 54,998 fans get to miss the next home game?

    It stands a good chance of cutting out racial abuse at matches in the same way that replacing parking fines with the death penalty is likely to ease traffic congestion.

    • No CandH is not saying that as you will realise when you see other players from other clubs mentioned. I see no reduction in racism as a result of people getting life bans. Perhaps you have a pro active suggestion which will help without drifting into a generic cultural discussion. Personally I consider racism a little more important than football match results and one that needs to be tackled seriously. He may or may not be right but reactionary responses don’t usually hack it. Your analogical conclusion possibly amused you but in reality left the discussion where it was and was somewhat dismissive of Antonio’s points and, given he has no doubt been the victim of racism, I am a little more sympathetic to his suggestions.

      • So what is C&H suggesting as a solution if not Antonio’s idea? Or are you suggesting that I’ve misunderstood the implications of Antonio’s idea being put into practice? Either way, I’m happy to be enlightened.

        While ‘Racism’ might be more important than football match results – is one instance of some neanderthal plonker using the word ‘black’ or ‘Muslim’ in a few seconds of abuse at a rival team’s player worth a points deduction or deserving of almost 60,000 non-racism spouting fans being prevented from watching a subsequent match? And if you decide that it is, have we then stopped ‘Racism’?

        In a relegation battle what’s to stop a rival club from bribing a supporter to yell out racist abuse in order to have a team suffer a points deduction and end up getting relegated? With the money involved in the Premier League, a bribe could certainly make it worthwhile for a few individuals. Given the ease with which non-WHU fans seem to be able to get into the general areas of the London Stadium, how easy would it be for us to be on the receiving end?

        It’s all very well being sympathetic to Antonio’s suggestions but surely anyone with any sense can see that they are not feasible as they’ve been reported.

        Do I have any alternatives? Well, given the HUGE reduction in demonstrations of racism at football grounds since my heyday in the 70s and 80s, I certainly won’t be advocating launching a cruise missile at a retreating rabble, rather I’d up the ante on lifetime bans etc with a proper naming and shaming of offending individuals by having their names and photographs appearing in a hall of shame in match day programmes and published in local newspapers and on local TV.

        Any punishment that punishes or deprives the innocent is simply unjust and despicable and reminiscent of the actions of fascists a generation or so ago.

        • We were reporting what Antonio had said rather than blogging a view on what we thought of his thoughts. Personally we doubt whether the figure quoted on Sky is correct – 87 pc sounds absurdly high and Antonio himself appears to believe the same. However, given the figures came from a Murdoch organisation that does not surprise. The intention was not to give a view other of course than explaining our position (shocking) on racism which we believe is best left to those dedicated to looking after clubs and the welfare of ethnic communities and individuals. I’m glad you, however, won’t be launching missiles other than in a analogical manner – a writing style you appear to enjoy as an art of exaggeration. Sadly you seem to ignore that the muttered word ‘Muslim’ by one was brought to the attention of thousands courtesy of Twitter and it thus becomes an issue. I think your naming and shaming plan is excellent.

          • >>Sadly you seem to ignore that the muttered word ‘Muslim’ by one was brought to the attention of thousands courtesy of Twitter and it thus becomes an issue. <<
            Not ignored, I just thought it went without saying given that Antonio's comments were undoubtedly prompted by that incident, but isn't it great that that happened?

            It's enabled a debate to be reinvigorated regarding this sort of bigotry at football grounds and the extent to which 'banter' is acceptable. It's enabled us to discuss potential solutions – at least in football grounds – to a society-wide problem and given an opportunity (which unfortunately not all have taken) for key influencers to issue condemnations.

            Although it is disappointing that some of the debate has been derailed by a few pedants and those looking for loopholes (eg, 'Muslim' is not a race etc), there's no doubt that the huge publicity given to what you suggest was 'muttered' demonstrates just how far we've come since the dark days. Perhaps the mood is finally right to come down hard on the anti-semitic chants and abuse that's still prevalent when we play our north London neighbours?

        • I don’t think the comments are aimed at isolated incidents but at clubs that have a number of incidents and a genuine problem. The thing is if you were black and bearing in mind that these yobs are usually fuelled up on beer and overly loud, after the game what do you think would stick with you and how would that make you feel or perceive the crowd ?

          • I’m afraid I don’t agree. Antonio’s comments are suggesting that a lifetime ban for an infringer is not enough and that clubs should be punished to place extra (vigilante) pressure on fans to bring infringers to order. Certainly, points deductions and closed matches for clubs that consistently fail to take effective action against fans would be more of a proportionate response but Antonio is someone who talks through his heart rather than his head and I don’t think that’s what he meant when he spoke.

          • Purely out of interest, what do you think he meant?

  4. Nice response Hugh. When I started supporting West Ham in the 1970’s as a student (based in Manchester!) my greatest shame was not the drubbings we sometimes got (I witnessed 3-0 away defeats to both City and Man U) but the perception that National Front types were West Ham supporters. Some of my heroes were black players who braced the odds to become crowd favourites (Leroy Rosenior and George Parris come to mind)

    I think that what Antonio was suggesting is that if the supporters knew that there were potential serious consequences, they would have rounded on the idiot who insulted Mo Salah and taken the initiative to evict him on the night – the ignominy of being thrown out by your own supporters might be a stronger deterrant than an administrative ban imposed post hoc – as Michail says it would be easy enough to slip in to a ground using an assumed identity

  5. Excellent comment Zahama. I do doubt the Sky figure of 87 per cent but we are after all dealing with a Murdoch operation 🙁

  6. I see Antonio’s point personally. I saw one of those Burnley pitch invaders last year get a bit of a spanking from our own fans when he tried to escape back into the crowd. I imagine if the one idiot hurling racist abuse is going to cause a points deduction for his team then a similar thing might happen, which might make him think twice. If the one idiot knows he might get a spanking from his own crowd if he throws a banana or gobs off in a racist fashion then he’s not going to do it is he?

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