Marvin Bartley: Racism in football has 'gone from making a mistake and being racially abused to simply being out there and being abused'

Marvin Bartley believes every dressing room in Scotland should have an agreement determining how they will respond to racism if one of their team is abused during a match.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 10:30 pm

Last week Glen Kamara and other black Rangers players were again targeted by Czech football fans, this time during their Europa League match with Sparta Prague.

Days later, fuming Dundee United manager Tam Courts showed his backing for his Cameroon international Jeando Fuchs, left visibly upset when something was shouted from the travelling Ross County support. At full-time, his manager held aloft a Show Racism the Red Card t-shirt in a clear message of disdain. The Highland club have since refuted the use of racist slurs but the Tannadice side have opened their own investigation.

Then, this week, the Livingston assistant manager Bartley highlighted some of the disgusting and disparaging comments he is subjected to on social media.

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Livingston assistant manager Marvin Bartley says football still has a massive fight on its hands as it tries to tackle racism. Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group

Now, he has revealed that the Almondvale players have agreed protocols that would see them walk off the pitch if one of their own is targeted on a matchday and he has urged other clubs to do likewise.

“I’ve been an advocate of walking off pitches for quite a long time because nothing else is working. It has to be an immediate response and it has to inconvenience people,” said the former Hibs midfielder.

“If you look at the bigger games on television and the international games where players are going to certain countries and being abused, if teams walked off broadcasters would soon be saying: ‘We’re not paying to broadcast your games if your fans have a tendency to racially-abuse and after half an hour the game could be over’. And, sponsors are not going to pay for that either. Why would you put your hand in your pocket to sponsor a game that could end after 20 minutes? That’s when UEFA and FIFA will start coming down on clubs and FAs and telling them to get their house in order, because they’re being hit financially.

"That’s the only way that change will be made, when it starts to inconvenience the people at the top.”

It has emerged that the Scottish FA has enacted some suggestions made during the anti-racism summits hosted in the wake of Ondrej Kudela’s on-field abuse of Kamara, in March. Now players who subject an opponent to racial or homophobic abuse face a year-long ban as strict new disciplinary measures are introduced.

Bartley says the fight is not over, though, calling on social media companies, politicians, as well as those in the game to drive the message home that enough is enough.

Calling for clubs who want to be licensed in Scotland to be forced to sign up to a list of protocols and punishments, he says there has to be greater accountability.

“I fear all football at the moment, if I’m being honest, not just international games. If a person of colour makes a mistake, I know what will follow on social media. It’s now gone from making a mistake out there and being racially abused to simply being out there and being abused, often by your own fans. We are going backwards and it has to stop.”

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