Racism in football

I meet Ouseley in the House of Lords. He has done more than anybody in this country to fight football racism. Ouseley, who moved to London from Guyana at the age of 11, is a glass-half-full man. It was during another intimidating occasion at Chelsea that he became convinced football fans would overcome their prejudice. The team was playing Ron Atkinson’s West Bromwich Albion, the first British side to field three black regulars. “From the moment West Brom stepped on to the pitch, they got the bananas and the treatment, because it was the team of Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson,” Ouseley says. “The booing was incessant, because the three black players were touching the ball a lot. Boo. Ball. Boo. Ball. Boo. Twenty minutes into the game, Laurie Cunningham got the ball, skated through the Chelsea defence, banged it in the back of the net and they got even worse.” Ouseley had gone to the game to watch the black trio, nicknamed the Three Degrees, after the soul group. “Twenty minutes later, Laurie Cunningham picked the ball up, zoomed through their defence and banged it in the net again. I’m in with the Chelsea fans and everybody’s booing, and one of the big guys in front of me turns to the other and says, ‘Mind you, the nigger is fucking good, isn’t he?’ That gave me a lift, because what it said to me was that these guys hated black people and wanted to destroy them, but at least the skill of a black player had risen above that. From that moment I felt a bit more comfortable.”
Racism in football

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