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The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham Hotspur news and links for Wednesday, February 10

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English football’s continuing abuse problem

Aston Villa Women v Tottenham Hotspur Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Hi, all!

That’s Tottenham’s newest signing, midfielder Cho So-Hyun, at the top today.

Ramble of the Day

People in English football have rightfully spent a lot of time this week reflecting on social media abuse, and the continuing problem of discrimination in football. Jonathan Liew wrote a piece for The Guardian about this continuing issue; there are a few points worth reading in the piece, but I’d like to just spotlight one.

Racism, obviously, does not exist only on social media. Liew provided the example of Haringey last season, when the team’s players received racist abuse during an FA Cup tie. He also shared the real-life consequences:

Last season Haringey Borough in north London were the victims of racist abuse from Yeovil Town fans during an FA Cup qualifying game. Their goalkeeper Valery Pajetat was spat at, pelted with stones and called a “black cunt.” After the game was stopped for several minutes, manager Tom Loizou decided that there was only one course of action. “My players were getting racially abused,” he says now. “The referee had no control. So I decided to take them off. The FA Cup don’t mean that much to me. I said to the Yeovil manager: ‘Good luck in the next round.’”

As ever with these things, the initial media interest quickly disappeared. The world of football tutted, frowned and returned to its business. For Haringey, meanwhile, the healing process has taken a good deal longer. The additional security measures required for the replay left them several thousand pounds out of pocket. The emotional scars, meanwhile, have been worse. “The club’s been in decline ever since,” Loizou says. “My goalkeeper didn’t want to play any more. Coby Rowe, the best centre-half I’ve ever had at this club, had to move on. The players are still struggling. What do you say? It’s a one-off? It won’t happen again?”

The vicious cycle Liew notes in the very title of his piece is part of the equation in the above excerpt — we learn of a racist incident, and then as a group, we move on. Frequently, we move on to the next incident. Personally, I’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of stories written about abuse suffered on social media by members of the footballing community, racist or otherwise; as a result, there’s been an uptick of links in the Hoddle about it. The above story is a particularly sad one, and probably not an uncommon one. We do not always get that follow up, though.

I think it is because a lot of people live in the dark about racism and abuse, and that results in people continuing to stay in that space. This, and a lot of other examples, signals to me a genuine lack of support from powerful bodies in sport and outside of it. There’s a point made in The Guardian piece that people tend not to respond to calls from governing bodies or government officials to combat discrimination and abuse, and are more likely to do so when players or their friends encourage them. A lot of those parties have stepped up — the last nine months of action on tackling racism have been led by players, but it still feels like the players are doing the lion’s share of the work, and that governing bodies have only followed up to a small degree.

To me, it still feels like people who rank higher than players are so behind on the issue. Just yesterday, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola used a question about abuse on social media to re-litigate a losing argument about Bernardo Silva’s racist tweet instead of focusing on the issue at hand. I always find comments like that anger-inducing, but occasionally it feels like the mountains of effort many have put into eradicating abuse are horribly under-appreciated, like one is running into a block.

I think it’s why this particular line resonated with me: “For all the joy it inspires, the stirring stories it serves up, English football feels more thoroughly consumed by hatred than at any point in its recent history.” For me, that zaps so much of the joy out of the game.

Links of the Day

The Premier League launched the No Room for Racism Action Plan, with the aim of increasing opportunities for people of color and eradicate discrimination.

Benfica-Arsenal will be played at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, while Real Sociedad-Manchester United will be played at Turin’s Allianz Stadium because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Wrexham’s takeover by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney is complete.

David Squires recaps Manchester City’s win over Liverpool and other Premier League matches in his latest cartoon.

A longer read: David Hellier and Daniele Lepido report that beIN will likely not renew its deal to broadcast Serie A, in another example of TV money leaving some of Europe’s top leagues for Bloomberg News