Football making a show of Black Lives Matter campaign irks me

By Donald Oliver June 25, 2020

As human beings, we are attracted to extravagance.

We like to be a part of the big show. Whether it be protests or boycotts, parades or marches, or social media hashtags, we crave the solidarity of community in championing our causes… and we react.

And let’s be fair, that has its place. Martin Luther King’s adaptation of Mahatma Gandhi’s design in the 1950s and ‘60s worked. Peaceful protests elicited an overreaction from law enforcement which in turn got the attention of the President of the United States. And racism was cured.

Ok… so racism wasn’t cured. There is still a lot of work to do.

However, the solution is not going to come from a showpiece.

So, when the English Premier League decided to mandate that every team in their division wear “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts instead of their names, it really ground my gears.

Maybe I was uncomfortable with being confronted with the issue head-on with the return of sport, in the aftermath of wall-to-wall news coverage of an ever-changing world. Football was to be my release.

What irks me the most, though, is that we have seen this all before from the Premier League.

Didn’t they launch a “No Room for Racism” campaign last year? And wasn’t there a “Kick It Out” campaign before that?

In both instances, it was just an extravagant show. “Kick It Out” is English football’s equality and inclusion organization, which was established as a body in 1997.

The problem is, the body has no power to impose sanctions on individuals or groups who are actually found guilty of racism at football games.

Now if “Kick It Out” can’t be trusted to make straightforward decisions, how is the Premier League going to assist in rooting out systemic racism which sees an obvious lack of black stakeholders in management, ownership and coaching in the UK?

The fight against racism in football needs to go up a few notches behind the scenes. Institutionalizing protest gestures like kneeling before the start of games robs the potency of the moment. And wearing “black lives matter” shirts seems like a total mockery to me, because it makes no difference.

Probably because acknowledging that black lives actually matter is the lowest denominator one can request in sport and in life.

In doing research for this article I came upon this link to the UEFA website which speaks about social responsibility and racism, only for it to hilariously return the message that the page doesn’t exist.

The irony is telling.

The sport’s governing body FIFA has run far from the issue of mixing politics and sport. And in a sense I understand, politics and sport should not mix.

However, the elevation of the black race in the quest for opportunity in a sport should not be deemed, politics. It is the right thing to do.

Football, after all, is a global game and representation in the elite leagues in Europe matters.

So provide opportunities for black coaches especially from poorer countries to get accredited; and for black players especially from third-world countries to further their careers.

It can be done, but the message must be engraved on the hearts of those who can enforce the change, and not on the backs of those who can’t.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Related items

  • Hamburg appoint Thioune as head coach after Hecking exit Hamburg appoint Thioune as head coach after Hecking exit

    Hamburg have named Daniel Thioune as their new coach.

    Thioune, who became the first German-born black head coach when he took over at Osnabruck in 2017, joins on a contract until 2022.

    His appointment comes after Hamburg parted ways with Dieter Hecking following their failure to secure a return to the Bundesliga.

    A 5-1 home defeat to Sandhausen on the final day of the season denied Hamburg a place in the promotion play-off and condemned them to a third campaign in the 2. Bundesliga.

    Thioune guided Osnabruck to promotion from the 3. Liga in 2018-19 and then a 13th-placed finish in the second tier as they avoided relegation.

    He said: "For me, the task at hand at HSV will be a great challenge, which I would like to tackle head on with diligence, team work and passion.

    "Everyone knows that HSV wants to be back in the Bundesliga. But to talk about that, doesn't bring us closer to that goal.

    "From my first day onwards, I will work hard with my team to develop all of the players and give the team the best chance to play football successfully."

  • Guardiola 'interfered in medical matters' at Bayern Munich, claims Muller-Wohlfahrt Guardiola 'interfered in medical matters' at Bayern Munich, claims Muller-Wohlfahrt

    Pep Guardiola thought he knew better than Bayern Munich's medical staff during his time with the Bundesliga giants, according to the club's former team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.

    Muller-Wohlfahrt ended his 40-year tenure as Bayern's chief doctor in June, with Hansi Flick's side having wrapped up yet another Bundesliga title.

    The 77-year-old was at the helm of Bayern's medical department during Guardiola's time at the club, with the Spaniard taking over at the Allianz Arena in 2013.

    Guardiola led Bayern to seven major trophies during a three-year spell, before leaving for Manchester City in 2016.

    Muller-Wohlfahrt has revealed he often clashed with the ex-Barcelona boss, though insisted the pair maintain a good relationship.

    "It was just that I couldn't put up with the fact that a young trainer – who was very successful and who is probably one of the really, really big ones – interfered in medical matters and knew everything better than I did,"  Muller-Wohlfahrt told BR24.

    "We met and talked to each other, and then it's over. 

    "We appreciate each other and he appreciates my work above all. He never questioned that."

  • Real Madrid get more penalties because they attack more - Simeone Real Madrid get more penalties because they attack more - Simeone

    Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

    Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

    Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

    Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

    Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

    "VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

    "It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

    "In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

    "Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

    Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

    Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

    Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

    "Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

    "He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

    "Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.