18 October 2012

Jason Brown on racism

Jason Brown didn't pull any punches when criticising football's authorities.

Earlier this afternoon, I've been listening to an interesting interview with Aberdeen and Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown on Sky Sports News regarding racism.

Brown, who was the target of a racist message on Twitter just a few days ago, had some harsh words to say about Serbia, FIFA and anti-racism campaigns while talking to Jim White.

Here, I highlight some of the key points that the 30-year-old shotstopper raised in his interview.

Early in the interview, Brown asked, "Are FIFA and UEFA just going to keep this (racist chanting) happening? It's like the Hillsborough disaster. They were warned, but they did nothing about it.

"With the Danny Rose situation, what are they gonna do? Just wait for something serious to happen, a situation where a player gets stabbed on the pitch, where a supporter runs onto the pitch, or another player hits someone and it turns into a massive brawl? It's ridiculous."

Jim White then asked Brown about his own personal experiences of racism when playing for Wales in Serbia back in 2003. Brown reiterated that he felt FIFA and UEFA were ignoring the issue, and called it "disgraceful" that nothing had changed in nine years.

White also asked, if the top organisations are ignoring it, is it up to the players to take action themselves?

"Does it need to come to that? All I ever see is UEFA and FIFA seem to just hand these countries (where black players are racially abused) tournaments. What are they going to do? Give Serbia a World Cup or European Championship?

"If push comes to shove, they're going to force a breakaway."

He added, "We (black players) go on there (the pitch) to entertain, we go on there to give the best. Danny Rose went on there to give the best for his country, and he's getting monkey chants. What are the delegates doing in the stands, that's what I want to know. Were they at the burger bar when this was going on?

"This is how it is. When you've got people that are in denial, they don't want to admit racism's in football, we're gonna continue having these problems. God forbid it doesn't come down to a situation similar to Hillsborough, where you're gonna get people retaliating in a way and someone's really gonna get hurt."

What would Brown say if he was able to speak directly to Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini?

"I would say these people (the abusers) don't understand. They're uneducated people. How about you take (tournament) points off them? Fining them doesn't do anything - these federations get money from fining players all the time.

"How about saying, right, I'm gonna take six points off you, which could be the difference between qualifying for a tournament or winning a league championship? That'll cost them, and if they do it again, say right, we're gonna withdraw you from the tournament. Take them out of the tournament - that's gonna hurt, that's being serious.

"And if they do it again, why not go to the extreme of saying right, that's it, you're banned from a tournament? Until you can show us that you're up to date and condemn racism, we're not going to let you be part of this beautiful game we have."

Brown was also scathing about the Professional Footballers' Association and the anti-racism campaigns that it has ties with.

"The whole Let's Kick Racism Out Of Football thing is just one big smokescreen. I refuse to wear any of their T-shirts or do any adverts for it because they don't really push it hard enough. It's almost like they're comfortable, let this keep rolling along as long as it doesn't really hurt us.

"It's interesting that yesterday, you had people coming on TV and speaking up, saying 'Serbia this, Serbia that'. How about when English-born players and other Premier League players that have racially abused other black players? They were all sitting on the fence, but now because it's another country, they want to pipe up."

That brought White to another question - what would Brown want to see done? Jason asked Jim what would happen if he racially abused a Sky Sports colleague, and Jim replied that he'd be sacked.

"There you go. People say that this is extreme, but do you really want black players, Muslims (Brown is a Muslim convert) and Jewish people to take the football federations, FIFA and UEFA, seriously? If you do, let's do it properly. Let's not do it half-heartedly, and we don't wanna hurt one or two people or we can't get rid of this player because they're too good.

"How about saying that we're thinking about the bigger picture, we're thinking about the young kids that are coming through our academies and look up to these players. They're the next generation coming through. Let's show that we're making a stance - we don't like this, we condemn it, and we're going to fight racism properly.

"The guy yesterday from the government (presumably he meant the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson), I couldn't take him seriously. I would've taken him more seriously if he'd said to me, I'll hire The A-Team to deal with this. When you started asking controversial questions, he didn't know what to do."

Finally, when asked if he would front a breakaway PFA for black players, Brown replied:

"I haven't got a crystal ball, but it's getting to a point that, because they keep ignoring us, it may have to go down those lines. But if we do go down those lines, let's not hear, 'He's a troublemaker' or 'Let's not employ him because he's part of that PFA'. How about respecting what we're trying to do and understanding that we've had enough. A line has to be drawn.

"How far do you want to let this go? Do you want to let this go to the point where one of the supporters ran up to Danny Rose and stabbed him?"

Jason Brown would make a fine politician when his football career comes to an end, and I hope that Blatter, Platini, and PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle have been listening to what he's had to say.

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