The unequal treatment handed out by our free and fearless press to sports stars who have the audacity not to be white has been brought into sharp focus following yet more racist abuse of Manchester City player Raheem Sterling - this time following City’s first Premier League defeat of the season, at Chelsea yesterday - and Sterling taking to his Instagram account to show the world that the press is not blameless in such matters.
Raheem Sterling - telling it like it is
As the BBC has reported, “Sterling cites newspaper headlines about team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying houses. The headline referring to 21-year-old defender Adarabioyo - who is on loan at West Brom - focuses on how he spent £2.25m on a property ‘despite having never started a Premier League match’. By contrast, midfielder Foden, 18, ‘buys a £2m home for his mum’ and is later described as having ‘set up a future’”. The Man City man made the all too obvious point.
“You have two young players starting out their careers - both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are. But look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player”.
Quite. And he wasn’t finished. “I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded, this young black kid is looked at in a bad light, which helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour. So for all the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age, all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity - and give all players an equal chance”.
No, the headlines about Adarabiayo and Foden are not explicitly racially charged. That isn’t the point: it’s the subtle, sly way in which Adarabiayo is portrayed negatively, while Foden is shown in a more positive light. And when it comes to Sterling himself, the press has a far greater roll of shame, despite the lame protestations from the likes of Piers Morgan, for whom blind obedience of the Fourth Estate’s chosen line is obligatory.
We can see this as Adam Keyworth has put together a Twitter thread (see HERE) with some of the more egregious misbehaviour. These include “The one where Raheem was ‘tired’" (Sun), “The one where Raheem was labelled 'footie idiot' for no apparent reason” (Sun), “The one where Raheem was 'greedy' for wanting a pay rise after a successful season” (Mirror), “The one where Raheem was 'obscene' having bought his mum a nice sink out of his own money” (Sun). And there was more. Much more.
“The one where Raheem dared to fly on a budget airline” (Mail), “The one where Raheem forgot to clean his car” (Mirror), “The one where Raheem the 'love rat' dared to propose to his 'long-suffering' girlfriend” (Sun), “The one where Raheem was called a 'rat' for being seen with a friend on holiday” (Sun), “The one where Raheem dared to eat breakfast even though he didn't win Young Player of the Year” (Mail) and “The one where Raheem got a personal tattoo” (Sun). And that’s only the first 10 of 31.
Black footballers continue to attract sly, low-level prejudice from the press. And it’s no use them clutching their pearls and pretending to be innocent parties.
Raheem Sterling is right. But all he’ll get for his trouble is more grief. Sad, but true.
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