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Jamie Lawrence: Racism still a major issue in football
Down The Line
Jamie Lawrence is passionate about his football.
It is seven years since his last appearance as a professional but the former City winger still turns out regularly in non-league, as well as running his own academy in London.
At 42, he shows no signs of easing back into middle age. He remains very much on the front foot with the game he loves and cares strongly about.
And it annoys him deeply to see the racism cloud that continues to hang over football both here and abroad. It angers Lawrence even more that he perceives nothing is being done to combat it.
He said: “These people who say there’s no racism in football are deluded. I’ve heard David James and Clarke Carlisle coming on the TV claiming it’s not a problem but I think they’re just protecting their jobs.
“They’re in with the PFA and the media and it’s politically correct to say there isn’t anything. But try being Danny Rose for the day in Serbia and ask him about racism.
“It isn’t going away. It’s not just the cases with John Terry and Luis Suarez, every week there’s a little incident somewhere.”
Lawrence applauded the stand taken by several prominent black players, led by Rio Ferdinand, who refused to put on the Kick It Out t-shirts before last weekend’s games. Like them, he feels that the well-publicised campaign has little effect.
He said: “It’s a smokescreen. I’ve done a bit of work with them and it doesn’t achieve anything.
“They didn’t come out and make a stand over John Terry. When Anton Ferdinand needed help, they sent the littlest man in the office to support him – why not one of the big-hitters to make some proper noise?
“There have been other issues when they just sit on the fence. But when they’re funded by the FA and Premier League, they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.
“Some of these other guys like Jason Roberts are playing a blinder, saying like it is, but they aren’t. They employ PC people who won’t ruffle feathers.”
Lawrence believes the fight against racism extends beyond the name-calling and monkey chants. There is also the feeling that black players cannot stay in the game once their playing days are finished.
He said: “Twenty five per cent of the players in the Football League are black. But how many are involved in coaching or management?
“There’s only four in the game at the moment. Four! That can’t be right. Until we start getting more black and Asian people in the board room and on the FA panels, then it’s not going to change.
“They are full of middle class white geezers who’ve always had money. They won’t understand the situation. How are they going to make it better for black people?
“Racism in football comes in all different forms. You can’t get jobs for black people because they lack experience – well, how can you get that?
“Nobody said anything about no experience when Paul Jewell went in at Bradford and took us to the Premiership.
“I watched a football show the other night when the topic was all about racism. There wasn’t one black face on the telly.
“We don’t want special treatment. People should only get these jobs if they are good enough. But there should be one rule for everyone across the board, black or white.”
There has been talk of a separate players’ union being created just for black players. It could potentially create a further divide but Lawrence admits the status quo may leave them with no other option.
He said: “Nobody wants that but if things don’t change how black players want it to, I can see it happening. You can see how frustrated people have become.
“I’ve got big respect for Rio because he sent out a massive statement. Fergie was telling the press the day before that all his players would wear the Kick It Out shirts but he was wrong on that one.
“You can’t force someone who wasn’t comfortable to do it and I’m pleased he accepts that now.
“But Rio got his point across. People aren’t going to listen to me talking about it but when he did that, the message went worldwide.
“He put his neck on the line to stand up to someone as powerful as Fergie. I just wish other people would be as brave.”