It had been well publicised throughout the day and featured prominently in the morning’s newspapers. Few football-lovers will have done well to avoid any mentions of it.
The majority consensus is one of outrage and shock. Twitter was flooded with angry responses to a show that featured hooligans chanting anti-Semitic songs and saluting Adolf Hitler. However, what gripped us all more was the moment Sol Campbell, an ex-England international, watched as a group of Indian students, supporting the home side, was attacked by other, and more importantly white, home supporters. “I want to cry”, said Campbell. It hit home just how serious a problem Poland and Ukraine have. These young students were being attacked purely because they were not white.
A large percentage of the television audience (15.7%) may have watched ‘Stadiums of Hate’ and went to sleep furious, but how many were just as livid with the news that Swindon Town officials have admitted that their manager, Paolo Di Canio, made an ‘inappropriate’ comment to an on-loan player? The comment related to a reference to the colour of Jonathan Tehoue’s skin colour. The club wished to apologise for any offence caused, that the comment was not in relation to race, and that Di Canio apologised. There is an on-going FA investigation so both parties must not be prejudged before its conclusions.
So it seems most have seen the documentary, and a lot will be aware of Paolo Di Canio and his beliefs, but how many have heard of Danny Hylton of Aldershot? A couple of weeks ago Hylton was banned for eight matches and fined £1,000 after being found guilty of ‘counts’ of racial abuse. The case was extremely similar to that of Luis Suarez. Ah, we’ve all heard of Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker is this season’s most hated man after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra, the Man United defender. The media storm surrounding this incident was huge. His reputation has been permanently smeared, and rightly so, but, for example, Danny Hylton, despite his ban, will return and there will be a lot of football fans whose eyes are fixed on the events of the English Premier League who have not heard of him and will treat him with respect. I must have missed the uproar on Twitter regarding Hylton.
Even the Guardian, a traditionally liberal newspaper that will not stand for any form of racism, has very little coverage of the Danny Hylton incident. In a season where racial abuse has suddenly risen to the top of the agenda again, Hylton’s ban apparently slipped under the gaze of the national media. There was no outcry, there was no condemnation nor was there another demand to eradicate racism from the game of football. If the player had been playing at a recognisable level the coverage would had been vast, such as the Luis Suarez case, and the public response would have been fierce.
The media in this country still has a problem. It still has obvious traces of racism throughout its pages, although it is denied. It also treats this social issue in the very same way that it treats any other story: if it isn’t big enough to sell a newspaper or draw a browser to its website then it isn’t worth covering. The role this powerful societal structure can play cannot be understated, but when racial chanting and violence continues in Poland and Ukraine beyond the Euros we will hear very little of it because it just does not care enough. More worryingly, do the rest of the public?
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