Burnley Football Club released an official statement today, notifying the public of an incident of alleged racism by a Clarets supporter during Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 win over the Clarets on Saturday.
According to a statement, a 13-year old Burnley supporter was ejected by stewards from the away section at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after making “an alleged racist gesture” at Spurs forward Son Heung-Min. Both clubs are fully cooperating in the investigation; the teenager was removed from the stadium along with his guardian. The Metropolitan Police is now leading an investigation.
I hate the fact that we still get these kinds of stories in the year of our Lord 2019, but it’s just another example of how pervasive racism is in sporting culture, even as the sport works to eliminate it. We look at leagues like Serie A which has been rife with examples of racist chanting and behavior and think that at least it’s not so bad in England, but it’s still pretty bad.
With that said, this is also a 13-year old kid who made a stupid, stupid decision. I’m a big believer in second chances, especially for children who still have time to turn around their behavior. The statement says that Burnley will contact the kid’s family in order to get him involved in an “enforced educational programme.” That’s the right approach here — with kids and young teens, it should be about education and reform and not punitive action.
Sonny, obviously, deserves none of this but it’s not the first time that he’s been the subject of racist abuse — there have been two separate incidents of West Ham fans shouting “DVD!” at him outside of the football pitch or making racist gestures at him. It’s sad, but it’s hardly surprising.
Kudos to Burnley for being proactive and having a zero tolerance policy for these sorts of incidents. Hopefully the kid will get his act together in the future.