22 October 2012

Jason Brown on racism: part 2

Jason Brown during his days as shotstopper for Blackburn Rovers.

Last week, Aberdeen and Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown was scathing in his criticisms of football's governing bodies and anti-racism campaigns.

His interview on Sky Sports News attracted much attention as he slammed FIFA and UEFA for ignoring racism, and said that campaigns like Kick It Out weren't doing enough to address the issue. The interview, which you can read here, is by far the most-read article in this blog's short history.

Earlier this afternoon, Brown was invited to the Sky Sports studios for a second interview with presenter Jim White.

He started with one of the points he raised in his previous interview, "It's got to the point where enough's enough now. We as players feel we have to now take it upon ourselves and speak up."

When asked about Rio and Anton Ferdinand's refusals to wear Kick It Out T-shirts before the weekend's Premier League fixtures, Brown replied, "I don't know what their stance is. If you look at everyone who didn't wear it (the T-shirts), I think there is a lack of belief in Kick It Out. I think everyone can see it for what it is.

"I spoke to (Kick It Out chairman) Lord Ouseley the other day on a radio station and what was quite disturbing for me was, one of his last comments was, I'm not here to speak out for black professional football players who are wealthy.

"Does money come into race now? Is that what we're saying, that if you've got money, you have to take it? That's disappointing. How can people trust these people? How can people expect us to sport these T-shirts and badges when the chairman of Kick It Out says I'm not here to speak out?"

He continued, "You can't be reactive to these situations, you need to be proactive. I know for a fact that four or five players have met with Kick It Out and the PFA and asked them if they can give some suggestions to tackle this. They gave them suggestions, they told them their ideas, but it seems they lost it somewhere because they've done nothing.

"We're (black players) not here to become rebels and start up trouble. We're in the game because we love it, but at the same time, the people we trust - the unions, the PFA, the Kick It Out scheme - are not doing what we ask them to do. What are they here for?"

White asked Brown what he and the likes of the Ferdinands and Jason Roberts wanted to be done. Brown continued, "Jason's got his own view, so has Rio and Anton and everyone else. We all know that Kick It Out are not funded with loads of money, even though the Premier League is a billion-pound corporation, but what they can do, instead of using whatever they get for printing these T-shirts, they can drive up and down the motorways and introduce themselves. I didn't know who Lord Ouseley was until I spoke to him the other day, and he's been the chairman for ten years.

"Let players reassure players that if there are incidents of racism within a club, player on player, you can come to speak to me because I'm here to voice your opinion. Ask us, not just black people, white people and other different races and religions, ask us what can we do?"

What were Brown's views on PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor?

"Gordon Taylor is one of the people that sat down with the players. Maybe the paperwork's lost under his desk. They're not doing enough. They're here to speak to us. With the race issue, they've just let it slide.

"You don't have to fall out with people, but what you can do, you can go and say to Sepp Blatter, excuse me, you're not doing enough. The players are not happy.

"Football's a worldwide sport played by many races and religions. We don't want it to come down to a point where we feel that, because we're a different colour or religion, we can't play football because we're scared of getting abuse."

Brown also had a stark warning that a breakaway union for players of ethnic minorities could follow.

"People have said there can't be a breakaway, and I'm all for that. We all have to fight racism together. I'm not saying we want to be rebels, but at the same time, if you're not doing enough, then you're forcing us down that road. We don't want to do this but we gave you suggestions, and it's about time you started reacting.

"I'm not saying people should lose their jobs. I just feel that it's a bit difficult now for me to trust Kick It Out when the chairman says he's not here for black professional footballers.

"How about you get yourself in the office with Sepp Blatter, sit him down and show him a video about racism? Let him understand it, I'm sure he does.

He goes on, "I am passionate about this. I suffered racism as a football player, and when I was a kid, and it hurts. I've got two children, and I want to be able to look them in the eye and say I'm trying to fight this cause. I'm not going to change the world, but I'm part of the cause to fight this, so that when my son and daughter want to play football, they don't have to worry about someone racially abusing them."

Finally, the 30-year-old was asked by White if there was any chance of racism being eradicated from football at some point during his career.

"That would be a bit naive of me if I said, yes, it would. Racism's not going to go overnight, but we need to start making strides and counter-attack it. It doesn't help when you have clubs and federations not doing it. We have to remember that the FA have opened themself up for Serbia to say, before you start pointing the finger at us, how about you get your own house in order."

If there were more people in football like Jason Brown, who are outspoken and willing to take the footballing authorities to task, maybe we would be closer to kicking racism out of football. When the PFA next come to electing a chairman, he should be seriously considered.

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