Once again, racist abuse and the Government’s response to it have made the headlines.
The three England players who botched their spot-kicks bore the brunt of racist abuse in the aftermath, and the great and good reached for their telescopes so that they might have a clearer view of the scene by peering into the wrong end.
But first, some essential facts. The ballers who screwed up are outstanding professionals and all-round good eggs.
But, for whatever reason, their penalty kicks on the night were shocking. Marcus Rashford, as any snooker player or gun enthusiast will tell you, ‘pulled it’. It could have been tension, nerves, or whatever, but he seized up with a rash effort.
The other two kicks could be fairly described as a Sancho pansy and a Saka shit.
While we ought not vilify players in a team event, these chaps did not have what it took to get it over the line, end of.
They are neither lions nor heroes.
They fluffed their lines when it really mattered, and as elite sportsmen nobody knows that better than they do themselves.
Let’s not gloss over that but also not blame them for the whole defeat. After all, the whole England unit failed to score a winner in 120 minutes of open play.
Bigging them up is arguably as baseless as knocking them down on the basis of their ethnicity, but I suppose it is rather nice of us.
As for the racism directed at the three, the facts again beg for further scrutiny. Nobody is denying that racist terms were tossed out at them, and somewhere down the line the perps will doubtless be jailed by magistrates who can pat themselves on the back that they have been seen to strike a blow against a social evil.
Lamentably, these local lawlords will be the same tired old turds who in their day jobs routinely block, or used to block, opportunities for minority candidates and who have always worked tirelessly to preserve the status quo from which they profit. The kicker – and heaven knows, this episode needs a decent one – is that they will inevitably base their verdicts on evidence collated by an institutionally racist police service.
Still, it will tick the box of propriety even if it changes nothing.
Meanwhile, Mr Nasty Troll and his chums, who have clearly demonstrated ‘racism’, will be sent down, and thereby the most obvious open goal will again have been missed.
Racism will not have been addressed at all.
You see, the trolls aren’t racist in the true sense of the word. They’re immoral, or probably amoral, and will seek to hurt anybody and everybody with whatever will land. At other times, they will be launching online attacks against women, gay people, and the disabled, getting mashed and vandalising phone boxes.
They’re no more likely to have bought into a philosophy of racial superiority as the magistrates who dispatch them to the winkle shop will hold a good faith commitment to civic duty. They’re not driving up support for hatred, just releasing some pent-up personal issues.
Do they deserve to be punished or treated? They sure do. We should however not convince ourselves that this in any way combats the spectre of racism.
It’s all window-dressing, and that’s where the battle against inequality falls flat on its face. A clutch of no-good toe-rags will be sent down the river, systematic inequality will remain unthreatened, and we’ll forge some make-believe heroes of three geezers who couldn’t hit a barn door from twelve yards.
The Government’s concern at an unfettered social media appears to be well targeted, but of course the only likely follow-through will mirror that of an injudicious fart.
This is not an anti-racist question but one of anti-hooliganism. The anti-racism stuff is much more difficult because discrimination benefits so many across the social spectrum, and they’ll not be relinquishing their wealth or power any time soon.
It’s their lifeblood.