‘Enough is enough’. Glen Kamara’s impassioned statement about the racist abuse he received during Rangers’ Europa League tie against Slavia Prague at Ibrox had a familiar feel to it.
For starters, note that we didn’t use the phrase ‘alleged racist abuse’ in that opening sentence.
Let no-one be in any doubt here. Slavia’s Ondrej Kudela did not cover his mouth to say, ‘you’re a f****** guy’.
As excuses go, it’s probably on a par with Johnny Cochrane’s infamous glove-related ‘if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ defence of OJ Simpson during the 1990s.
The fact that Kupela cupped his mouth, coupled with Kamara’s incredulous reaction, tells you everything you need to know.
The question now is what happens next? Football has been littered with instances of this nature for far too long now.
Unfortunately, football’s governing bodies have shown themselves to be completely incapable of tackling the issue of racism.
Punishments such as fines and stadium closures have been tried, but they have not had the desired effect.
Experts on racism argue that it is a cultural and institutional issue that needs long-term solutions and re-education.
While this is largely true, football cannot afford to wait around for governments to fix a societal problem, especially when some of the politicians involved are racists themselves.
As things stand, racists are being allowed to spew their bile in football without fear of repercussions. This must change.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, hooliganism was a major issue for football. Again, this was a societal problem, but the sport attempted to get its house in order.
The five-year ban from European competitions issued to English clubs sent a strong message that hooliganism would not be tolerated.
The national governing body and its clubs were forced to take appropriate action.
While the issue of mindless morons beating the hell out of each other still exists, football isn’t impacted in the same way.
Taking a similar course of action to eradicate racism in football could be equally effective. Would it make racism go away? No, that can only be addressed by changes in society.
However, if clubs were under the threat of a five-year ban for racist incidents, they would soon start to take the issue seriously.
Small fines and closing stadiums for a couple of games does not work. UEFA and FIFA must not be allowed to continue to nod the racism issue onto society’s shoulders.
Stiff penalties must be introduced – not in a few years, but NOW. As Kamara said – enough is enough.