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INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BARNES REGARDING RACISM IN FOOTBALL

Finally sumone speaking sense on this issue.Below is an interview with Liverpools John Barnes regarding the racism cloud thats hanging over Liverpool

January 8, 2012

ANY QUOTES USED MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO SKY NEWS, MURNAGHAN

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Now then, the Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi had to be confronted by follow players on Friday after a racially aggravated public order offence at Anfield. It follows a spate of racist incidents on and off the pitch in recent months. Well let’s talk now to the former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes, joins me from the Wirral, a very good morning to you John. Of course I know that Liverpool Football Club has always got a very dear place in your heart and that’s reciprocated by the fans but what seems to be going on there at the moment?

JOHN BARNES: Nothing that isn’t going on everywhere else. Liverpool isn’t any different to any other club, there are obviously incidents that happen everywhere but obviously in a high profile situation like Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, that is going to be highlighted and of course with Tom Adeyemi, with Oldham, someone shouted some racist abuse at him, he turned round and responded but that happens everywhere, that still happens. I’m not naïve enough to believe that it hasn’t happened and obviously it’s wrong and something has to be done about it but it is not an isolated incident and we are naïve if we are going to think it is just at Liverpool that these things happen.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: You say not an isolated incident, how did you deal with it when, it must have happened to you in grounds up and down England?

JOHN BARNES: Well of course everyone is different and it was like water off a duck’s back to me. I considered those people to be ignorant so it never affected me in the slightest. I didn’t react, which was right for me as a human being but another black person who decides to react as Tom may have done, that’s what he has to do. There’s no right or wrong way from an individual’s point of view but for me, it didn’t affect me in the slightest because no one can disenfranchise me because of the colour of my skin by making me feel inferior, by shouting racist abuse at me. So for me, it was water off a duck’s back but like I said, people deal with it in different ways.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: But do you think from the time that you played, John, it is decreasing in terms of what’s going on in the stands and the seats there, that it really is a tiny, tiny minority who are indulging in this?

JOHN BARNES: Overt racism is decreasing because of legislation now in place, so if there is any racist chanting or any racist slogans you will be ejected from the ground, you’ll be banned therefore if you are a racist, you keep your mouth shut. But we have to be very naïve to believe that because this legislation is in place, that racists aren’t racists any more. All they have to do is keep their mouths shut for 90 minutes and then continue to be racist for the rest of the week, so football can do very little to get rid of racism. It can govern its own house and in terms of overt racism there is work that can be done but in terms of changing people’s minds about race and racism, it is only through education, that’s the only way we can change people’s minds. Not by banning them or by giving legislation to say no racist changing at football stadiums.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: But isn’t football part of the education process given particularly the young kids who play, who watch, who idolise their heroes? With that educational role you talk about, football can be part of that can’t it?

JOHN BARNES: From an education point of view. The point I’m talking about is what is race? Is race genetic, is it the colour of your skin? What is race? Because if you look at Anton Ferdinand and John Terry for example, Anton Ferdinand is probably closer genetically because his mother is white and his father is from the Caribbean, presumably he will have had some white blood in him in the past, so genetically he’d be closer to John Terry than to a completely black West African. So is he white? His mother his white. These are the questions that we have to then ask to say what exactly is race. A lot of people believe race doesn’t exist. Is race social and cultural, is it genetic, is it the colour of your skin? A Chinese person is white but he is not deemed white so it’s not the colour of your skin. These are the questions I’m talking about which have to be then spoken about for kids to understand what race actually is because there are a lot of people that believe that race doesn’t exist.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: It’s interesting this point you make, to speak openly about them. Do you think in a way, it is probably the wrong word to use, that there is something positive coming out of these incidents?

JOHN BARNES: Dialogue and bringing it to the fore. Race is a very complex … and racism. If you don’t understand race, how can you understand racism? Race is a complex issue. In West Africa you can have two black West Africans who genetically are much more diverse than a black West African and a white European, so what is race? Really, once we start talking about what race is, then we can start to say what racism is because you can still abuse people at football matches, you can say ‘you Scouse so and so’, ‘you fat so and so’ so we have to classify exactly what we can and what we can’t say, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Yes, and football alone can’t do that, I get your point. Just lastly, John, on the way that Liverpool has handled the issues over the last few days and weeks, in the papers again today saying particularly the manager, Kenny Dalgleish, could have done better.

JOHN BARNES: First of all, as far as the Luis Suarez … with the Tom Adeyemi thing they have come out and fully co-operated with the police and they are going to investigate, they are going to give all the evidence from the CCTV footage so they have done the correct thing. From the Luis Suarez incident, I have been up to Anfield and I have spoken to people at Liverpool and they are 100% convinced that Luis Suarez is innocent. Obviously they have accepted the punishment but they haven’t accepted the verdict. The verdict is one man’s word against another and the Commission chose to believe Evra. That doesn’t mean that that’s right. I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong, I’m not speaking on behalf of Suarez or Evra but what I’m saying is that Liverpool are committed to believing that Suarez is right. Suarez has indicated that he did not say that he had didn’t talk to people because they were black or he kicked him because he was black, Evra said that’s what he said and they believed Evra, but that doesn’t mean he said it. I don’t know, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t but this is just an independent commission which doesn’t mean … So Liverpool are fully committed to back, because they believe Suarez.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Interesting thoughts. John, thank you very much indeed for your time there, John Barnes in the rain there on the Wirral with some very challenging questions for us all

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