Paris racism shame is not the exception

It’s my considered opinion that we would as a nation be fooling ourselves if we believed the campaign to eradicate racism from sport, and in particular soccer, had been successful.

While the appalling abuse by Chelsea supporters of an innocent Parisian two weeks ago is viewed as an exception, I am afraid to say nothing could be further from the truth.

On the surface the hateful abuse of individuals appears to have gone, but bubbling beneath there is trouble in store for a game that seems unable to curb its own excesses.

What makes me so certain is my own experience here in the generally sleepy North-east, where I still hear expressions of hate and disrespect for people not of their own creed or colour.

For some strange reason we seem to be as a nation still using the bigoted language of the 60s which I was party to, but can honestly say never used.

But if my Scottish roots were tainted, my experiences in South London during the early 70s were much, much worse including seeing the kind of behaviour demonstrated in Paris at Chelsea and, in particular, Millwall where I was to be seen on the occasional Saturday afternoon.

I cannot believe all that much has changed in the intervening years, particularly as I still hear the hateful rhetoric here in East Gordon in places where it is still unchallenged.

No, we have some way to go in getting rid of a scourge which continues to embarrass the majority of fair- minded citizens who really have to stand up and counter attitudes that have no place in our society. Mind you it is not going to be easy, given that one of the planks of bigotry is centred on our suspicion of immigrants, even if they are not all black, not helped by the BBC who seem more than happy to let Question Time lead almost every week with a question on immigration.

In fairness Scotland is less obsessed with the issue, while our English cousins are quite paranoid about what they seem to regard as a major problem, for why else would UKIP be so popular south of the border.

What did impress me in all the hype surrounding the Paris Metro story was the refusal of the victim to go public after his ordeal, instead maintaining a dignified silence.

I just hope he continues haud his wheesht, and turns down Chelsea’s offer of a weekend in London, including being a guest at Stamford Bridge where they play.

Can you imagine the meal the London-based media would have were he to come over, even for a short stay.

Perhaps the arrogance of England’s leading side in believing watching a game of football would pass for an apology said it all.