Danny Rose loves to speak his mind, and he has had another outspoken interview today with Dan Kilpatrick in the Evening Standard, this time expressing his concerns about possible racism at this summer’s World Cup.
In short, he’s worried, and he has reason to be so. Rose expressed dismay at the way FIFA has handled incidents of racism by football supporters directed at fans and players in the past, and has gone so far as to tell his family not to come to Russia this summer to watch him play for England in this year’s tournament.
“I’m not worried for myself, but I’ve told my family I don’t want them going out there because of racism and anything else that may happen. I don’t want to be worrying when I’m trying to prepare for games for my family’s safety. If anything happens to me, it wouldn’t affect me like it would if my family had been abused. I’m fine with whatever may or may not happen, and I like to think I’ll be able to deal with it in the right way.
“My dad’s really upset. I could hear it in his voice. He said he may never get a chance again to come and watch me in a World Cup. That was emotional, hearing that. It’s really sad. It’s just how it is. Somehow Russia got the World Cup and we have to get on with it.”
Those quotes from Rose are both provocative and extremely sad. Not that we should be surprised at all — journalists love Rose because he is a refreshingly honest interview who tells things as he sees them and rarely holds back on his opinion.
And Rose has good reason to be upset — he himself was the victim of racial abuse in Serbia back in 2012 while playing for England’s U21 side when he was subjected to monkey chants by the Serbian crowd. Rose was, in fact, sent off for arguing with the match officials about his treatment. The Serbian FA was fined £65,000 after the incident but denied charges of racism, and that’s an experience that has stuck with Rose ever since.
Those old wounds have come to the surface, especially after FIFA fined the Russia FA £22k for a racist incident recently, while England’s FA was fined £16k for a player sipping an “unsanctioned” can of Red Bull during last summer’s U20 World Cup.
“I have no faith in the justice system so I don’t let anything affect me. I didn’t get any support after Serbia. I never had a conversation with anybody outside of England. I still ended up getting suspended and missing the first game of the competition. It’s just the way it is. What can you do?
“We had a team meeting last week and asked, ‘What if it happens [in Russia]? What would we do?’ We said we have to back each other. We said, ‘What if somebody doesn’t want the attention? Do we take over?’
“I said, ‘What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to play football or are we trying to change the world?’ Whatever we do here isn’t going to change what is happening all around the world.
“I’m just numb to it now. If I’m racially abused out there, I’m abused. Nothing is going to change. I just get on with it. It shouldn’t be like that but it is.
“I don’t want to sound like a cry baby. There are millions of people who have it much worse than I’ve had it. We’re big enough to deal with it and we’ve got the right people around us to help if anything was to occur.”
Racism is a huge, HUGE concern this summer as Russia is set to welcome players and fans from 31 other countries. There have been worrying reports of football hooliganism and racism-related incidents coming out of Russia in recent months and years, stoking worries that the World Cup is a tinderbox ready to burst into flames when the tournament kicks off on the 12th of June.
What’s sad is that Rose is expressing out loud the fears and concerns that are almost certainly plaguing most football players of color in this year’s World Cup. While some fans living in Russia are trying to downplay the possibility of racism in Russia this month, it remains something that simmers just under the surface.
In that sense, we can thank Danny Rose for vocalizing his fears in a way that crystallizes what a lot of other people are already thinking. It doesn’t change the hard truth that racism is still very, very much a part of football fandom today, and it could be very visible when the World Cup kicks off on June 12.