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The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham Hotspur news and links for Monday, December 7

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The Millwall Supporters’ Club’s disgraceful statement

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Brighton & Hove Albion Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Hi, all!

A quick reflection on yesterday before we get on with the day.

Ramble of the Day

The Millwall Supporters’ Club put out a statement on Sunday, wanting us all to read something that seems to have a lot of thought put into it. After all, it’s 572 words long and in the opening paragraph, they write: “we have been determined to listen to as many different views as possible before commenting.” I did what they wanted and I read it.

The first stance they took was only the first anger-inducing one: “We fervently believe that the motives of those behind the booing were not racist.” It is incredible, in the most horrible way, that they attempt to deny something so obvious. Players all around the world have agreed on a symbol of anti-racism before matches, following the lead of Colin Kaepernick, an athlete with a similar platform. The meaning of the gesture as just one step in practicing anti-racism is the agreed upon definition in the football world and outside of it. That act of anti-racism was not just met with indifference; it was met with outright rejection — what else can boos signify? It was as clear as it could get.

The statement continued: “At a time of heightened awareness and with the country watching, the choice of those individuals was always going to damage their club and be perceived by the media as racist.” The Supporters’ Club is correct that it was going to be perceived as racist, because that’s what it was. I hope the mentions of “heightened awareness,” a “country watching,” and “the media” are warnings to those who booed a symbol of anti-racist behavior; I fear it is a complete deflection of responsibility.

They continued: “The greatest thing it highlighted is the need for clarity and understanding on both sides of this divide.” This is plain deflection. I find it difficult to equate the work those who perform anti-racist acts to create a fairer society to the work those who perform racist acts.

The Supporters’ Club finally began to outline its argument, saying: “[Those who booed] were doing it in reaction to the war memorials and statues of Churchill defaced by the BLM organisation and the extreme political views they hold, and for which ‘taking the knee’ is associated with.” I would like to take the last five months into consideration. Over this course of time, players have continued to kneel and others have committed in other ways to fighting racism, as have some clubs. Never once has it been implied that everyone in English football was committed to achieving change through political action. The FA can barely sort itself out, for starters, so tackling the whole nation’s racism would be quite the stretch. The Premier League, though, openly admitted it was not interested in endorsements of political policy. Considering the recent history and habits of leaders of the English game, it is not remotely surprising they do not get involved in politics. They would not, in supporting kneeling before games, be endorsing legislative actions.

Funnily enough, the Supporters’ Club actually notes the above point in their next paragraph: “[The players] explicitly did not use it to support any political viewpoint or organisation and therefore the booing shows disagreement with anti-discrimination.”

Unfortunately, this very important point is sandwiched between an unfair representation of an anti-racist symbol and a bad faith argument. The Supporters’ Club references Les Ferdinand’s August statement that kneeling is not enough; they falsely interpret it as the gesture having “run its course” and therefore being useless. The gesture should be the base level of anti-racist acts, but instead arguing that more must be done, they argue less should be. Ironic considering the next thought is: “action called for is desperately needed and the action needed was not to boo the gesture.”

When I said at the beginning that a lot of thought went into this, I meant it. This is a clear act to muddle messages of anti-racism with disingenuous debate. It must be taken seriously, because as much as they claim they are committed to eradicating racism, this is so obviously not a solution to the problem.

Links of the Day

Juventus was accused of unfairly accelerating Luis Suárez’s Italian citizenship application by the dean of the university where the forward took his Italian language exam.

Nice fired manager Patrick Vieira after more than two years in the job.

Yunus Musah signed a six year contract extension with Valencia.

A longer read: John Hodgman on the 1971 Ibrox disaster, in which 66 people were killed in a crush leaving an Old Firm Derby, and Rangers’ long failure to take responsibility for The Guardian