When you have to issue an apology for a press release that was supposed to act in part as an apology, you know you’re in big trouble.
The Malky Mackay situation went from repugnant to absurd to borderline comical after the LMA’s press statement released on Thursday had the audacity to downplay racist, homophobic, and sexist texts exchanged between Malky Mackay and Iain Moody.
The LMA, apparently having just attended The Richard Keys School of Public Defence, excused Mackay’s actions as the “friendly text message banter” of a man under “great pressure”. How racial slurs, sexism, and blatant homophobia can ever be described as “friendly”, only the LMA can know. I would venture a guess that most people living in this century understand that those things are the exact opposite of “friendly”, but maybe I’m just an optimist.
But after the initial laughter at the complete ineptitude of the LMA to form a statement conforming to the basic moral principles of the 21st century that being racist and sexist and homophobic are all bad things, you’re left with a very disturbing thought – “Wait, do they really not understand the seriousness of this? Do they really not understand how repugnant and reprehensible these texts are?”
Then you reread the statement and realize, “Holy crap, they don’t”.
You know this, because there are sentences such as “…Malky had, it seems, sent a couple of one-line texts that were, with the benefit of hindsight, very regrettable and disrespectful of other cultures”. The most damning thing here being, “with the benefit of hindsight”, as if it were impossible to deduce that calling a South Korean player “chinky” or commenting that there’s “nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers” were bad things to say the moment you said them. Yes, who wouldn’t need a period of reflection to look back and ponder whether those were inappropriate things to say? Unless of course, you remember you don’t live in the early 20th century.
The second major clue that let you know the LMA wasn’t taking this seriously, was when you read the sentence, “If Malky has caused any offence by these two isolate matters he would, however, wish to sincerely apologize.”
That is not accepting responsibility for your actions, it’s making it seem as if you don’t understand what it is you did wrong in the first place. The so called “sincere apology” offered by Mackay seems about as sincere as when you tell your grandmother you love the Christmas sweater she knit for you and are going to wear it to school to show all your friends. No, there is no sincerity there, just a man doing what he has to do, when you know underneath of it he can’t see what all the fuss is about.
The saga has taken another ludicrous turn today as the ever-quotable Harry Redknapp, in his infinite wisdom, defended Mackay by saying that, “He hasn’t murdered anyone, he hasn’t raped anyone, and he isn’t a paedophile”. Erm, ok, so that just leaves bigot, misogynist and homophobe, then. When the defence of your moral character gets to the point you have to say, “Well, at least I don’t kill people or sexually assault children!” you’re not in a very good spot.
Redknapp ended his comments saying that Mackay is “a real football man”. Maybe that’s part of the problem.
The LMA is an extremely homogenous association, with the overwhelming majority of managers in England being white, British men.
The lack of black managers in England, and the sport in general has been talked about in recent years, but it never seems to much further than people just saying “We need more black managers”. When Chris Hughton was fired by Norwich last April, the number of black managers in England went down to zero.
This means the LMA continues to be what it has always been: white, middle-aged to older men who have spent their whole lives in an environment where racism, sexism and homophobia are probably much more rife than we would feel comfortable believing.
The FA is going to have to start having these awkward conversations over the homogeny of its ranks, and the archaic attitudes that run through it. Just because football is a testosterone driven sport doesn’t mean its members have the license to act like a******s.