The issue now is if Wales ‘don't’ walk off the pitch ...
Friday, 8th Oct 2021 09:00 by Gruff Stephens
Swansea City led the way last season with a social media lockdown in response to numerous players at the club being abused and victimised by cowardly posts on all mediums of the Internet. The story went worldwide, bar of course certain media who chose not to report it, and now Robert Page is stating his Wales side will walk off the pitch if the same treatment occurs tonight in Prague.
Surprisingly the Wales On Line ‘have’ decided this is a news story and have reported the fact that Robert Page has stated his side will leave the pitch if they become the victims of racist abuse. More legitimate news media such as Sky Sports have quoted him as saying "If action needs to be taken we absolutely will do that as a group. We won't stand for it and there will be zero tolerance for any racial abuse." For that we commend Robert Page, and his staff and team for actually talking about the potential circumstances in Prague tonight.
Bearing in mind that three hundred thousand Czech nationals were killed during Nazi occupation in World War Two. It is extremely difficult to understand that tonight in Prague would be anything other than a celebration of those brave lives lost at the hands of hate and murder because of who they are. In fact it’s shocking to the core we are even discussing it. Just a few miles north of Prague at Terezin, a Nazi death camp and holding point for hundreds of thousands of Jews in World War Two, memories are still raw. The deaths of nearly thirty four thousand Czech nationals at Terezin, mainly through hunger and disease at the hands of the German army is even more shocking. And lets make no bones about it, Dress it up as you like, they were Europeans just like we all are, and those atrocities shouldn’t be hidden behind the word ‘Nazi’ Let’s not forget that. The apologies and excuses have worn far too thin.
The issue now isn’t “ oh we might walk off the pitch” the issue now is ‘If you don’t walk off the pitch’ If hatred is the order of the day, why say you will fight it, if you don’t do it ? The authorities that run football have failed time and time again to address nations who have allowed fascism in to their stands, and hatred in to their football associations, These institutions are fined minuscule sums of money, which to us seems they are supporting this display of hate, and merely paying it lip service.
Sparta Prague fans were banned following racist abuse of Monaco's Aurelius Tchouameni in August, but around 10,000 schoolchildren were permitted to attend the Rangers European game recently, and Gers player Kamara - who was on the receiving end of a racist slur from Slavia Prague's Ondrej Kudela in March - was targeted with what the Scotland's players' union declared as "sickening abuse". It seems the racists are ‘right’ in the thick of Eastern European football institutions, and being allowed to get away with it. The incidents are so often, and so mismanaged by the governing body UEFA we can only assume they too support this behaviour. Not dissimilar to Swansea City’s stance last season when it was generally ignored in Wales but managed to be sports headlines from Chicago to Melbourne. It’s very odd. And very revealing.
Sparta Prague fans greet their side with Nazi salutes
Wales have five identifiable players of colour in their squad, Ben Cabango, Ethan Ampadu, Tyler Roberts, Brennan Johnson and Sorba Thomas. Refreshingly Page stated "If action needs to be taken we absolutely will do that as a group. We won't stand for it and there will be zero tolerance for any racial abuse. We will take the knee because that's what we think is the right message to continue to show. How the crowd react, we can't influence that. But what we will do is conduct ourselves in the right and proper manner. We know as a group what's acceptable and what's not."
We genuinely hope that if racist abuse is heard and witnessed tonight that Wales set the bench mark for stopping this intolerable and cowardly attempt to discriminate and create division in our game. It doesn’t matter what the score in the game is, and the apologists for racist behaviour continually use this as a fall back or excuse for a team to walk off the pitch.The supporters of hate are disgusting, they are sad and deserve the contempt they receive and deserve.
Tonight Robert Page our message is this, if our national side is the victim of racist abuse, hold your head up high, lead our players from the pitch and let’s set a precedent, because UEFA have failed, so now it’s our turn to take the game back. We are not at the stage of refusing to play against these nations with hate filled supporters just yet, but it’s getting very, very close.
Swansea Independent supports any action against racism that stops hate and creates a better future for everyone
If you witness any form of racist abuse or hate in football, click on this link and report it. Do your bit. Kick it out.
Photographs licensed from Reuters
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