On Saturday evening, a Manchester City fan was filmed making a monkey gesture at Manchester United’s Fred, with his side 2-0 down at the Etihad.
We’ve all seen it. It’s as plain as day and quite rightly, the individual has been tracked down and arrested.
In the aftermath, many football fans on Twitter, including plenty from Liverpool, have taken delight in the manner in which the racist incident soils City and their reputation.
After all – it’s a disgusting act and one that has rightly been universally vilified.
But in many cases the focus has not been on the victim (Fred), the root causes or how we can ‘do better,’ – but in laughing at Manchester City.
Raheem Sterling, who was in the vicinity and did little when Fred had things thrown at him, has actually come under as much stick as the perpetrators.
A comment he made previously about how teams whose fans are involved in racist incidents should be docked nine points [BBC Sport] has been gleefully thrown at him, too.
This is not how we, as Liverpool fans, or as a society, should deal with racism.
City are not racist because of one idiot, just like Liverpool are not racist because of one fan (he wore our colours, didn’t he?) who abused an elderly Asian man, calling him ‘Mr. Miyagi’, before our Champions League semi-final with Barcelona.
The club didn’t cover itself in glory back in 2011 during the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra fiasco, either, and in hindsight, made some pretty shameful decisions at the time.
Hopefully, as a club and as a fanbase, we’ve learned from it.
Football as a whole must stick together and out the right-wing bigots. It’s not an issue of rivalry, it’s an issue of right and wrong.
Gary Neville pointed the finger at Prime Minister Boris Johnson following the game, for inciting the kind of racist rhetoric through his politics that has stirred up such behaviour amongst his followers.
If Neville can make this analytical point on live TV, perhaps we should be doing better than, ‘Haha – City are racists’.
Sterling has been the victim of racism on countless occasions and trying to win points against him by tracking up his own previous attempts to fight it is not beneficial to overall change.
Is he being hypocritical? Maybe a little bit, yes. But are his intentions to stop racism genuine? Of course they are. Should he have reacted louder on social media when the pictures of the gesture emerged? Probably. But it’s not our job to fight him for it – it’s our job to battle the systemic racism that has crept into our society and our game. Sterling may be our enemy on the pitch, but in this battle, he isn’t.
Let’s do better. Let’s talk about racism in our game. Let’s call out the individuals in question. Let’s support the victims unequivocally. Let’s fully back schemes that educate and boost diversity. Let’s not bathe in glory when a racist wears the shirt of one our rivals.