Social scientist Dr. Herbert Gayle believes the English Football Association can do more than just permitting those who decides to kneel before games, if it wants to be taken serious about its fight against racism in the sport.
Referees, players and their coaching staff have been kneeling prior to the start of matches since the league resumed last month. The gesture stems from widespread protests in the United States over racial injustice after a black man, George Floyd, was murdered by a white police officer.
The incident was recorded by several onlookers and since went viral. “Allowing players, coaching staff and officials to kneel before games is the least the English FA can do,” said Gayle via the telephone. The English Premier is the most commercial of Europe’s top five leagues that includes Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga. Gayle, who lectures in anthropology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, believes real change would come if the FA were to change the image of officiating.
“Yes, the premiere league needs to go deeper. Change is not going to come until the premiere league can run out a black referee or lines official,” argued Gayle.
Because of its commercial might, the premier league attracts the wealthiest investors. Having a non-white at the governing level, Gayle said, would suggest that the FA’s public support for racial parity in the sport is not a charade.
“Football has always been used as a protective frame of hedge money. The fact that the premiere league does not to use one black referee (male or female) says that the premiere league is still an emblem of white hedge money. The least that they could have done is come out in support of black lives matter but greater work must be done and that can start at the judicial level. The referee is the most visible agent at the governing level,” he said. Meanwhile, the return of international club football has provided much relief for Jamaicans home and abroad.
For ardent Liverpool FC supporters Leighton Levy and Tiffany Rattray, it was a massive joy to see their side finally lift the Premier League title after 30 barren years.
The latter, who is a Jamaican healthcare worker currently residing in the United Kingdom, had this to say via a WhatsApp text.
“I feel excited seeing football on television again. I think it is great! Being able to banter and jeer opponents. The joy and love of the sport will allow us to socialize again, it will bring back joy, something to look forward to during this unprecedented time and better yet, I got to see my team lift the premier league trophy,” she said.
For Levy, content editor and senior writer at Sportmax TV, and a lifelong Liverpool fan, he believes the leagues’ respective Football Associations (FA) have done a fantastic job to ensure that the season ends without conflict. “The protocols were put in place to protect the players as best as possible, and we can get to see the respective leagues come to a logical conclusion as opposed to the associations coming to a determination about who wins and who gets relegated.
“It is all settled on the field, albeit without fans in the seat but at least we get to see the games live,” he said.
Premier League champions Liverpool will relinquish their hold on the Champions League’s title, Europe’s elite football competition, as they were kicked out in the round of 16 by Spain’s Atletico Madrid before the break.