One of the UK’s top anti-racist charities launched its annual Wear Red Day fundraising campaign at Unite’s central office on Tuesday (September 3), with sporting stars among football and cricket’s finest in attendance.
Show Racism the Red Card’s (SRtRC) event drew illustrious guests including former footballers Pat Nevin, Paul Elliot, Alain Goma, England cricketer Monty Panesar, and former Rangers manager Alex McLeish among many others.
They stood united in their fight against racism, with Unite and other speakers highlighting the important work SRtRC has done to educate young people about racism using the vehicle of football to inform and inspire.
Founded in 1996, the organisation brings anti-racism training to young people and workers at schools and workplaces throughout the UK, with many current and former footballers helping to deliver and support the training sessions. Every year, Show Racism the Red Card reaches out to about 50,000 people.
At the launch event, UniteLive caught up with Pat Nevin, former Chelsea and Everton winger, who has also been a life-long anti-racism campaigner. In fact, he’s been involved with Show Racism the Red Card from the very beginning.
Nevin tirelessly continues his involvement because, he said, “the anti-racism fight goes on”.
“It certainly changes. Is it better than it used to be? Yes, but it’s still there. We’re here to educate, and give as much information as we possibly can to fight racism.”
Asked why fighting racism was so important to him personally, Nevin noted, “Equality is what my entire life is based on – and it always has been.
“It’s almost like asking, ‘Why do you breathe? Why do you drink water? Why do you eat? Why do you fight for equality and against racism in society? It’s because you have to; because you should. We must educate and explain to people who don’t know that we’re all the same – it doesn’t matter your colour, your sex or religion. We’re all the same.”
Nevin called on football players and fans and all who hold the game dear to make their voices heard to stamp out racism in the game once and for all.
“Racism has been used in football, but I’ve never thought it was football’s problem – it’s a societal problem. And certainly there are those people within society with those sorts of beliefs who use football as a vehicle,” he said.
“But the vast majority of football players are great, as are the fans and people who watch football on the telly and read about it in the papers. Yet it’s the noisy ones you hear about. That’s why we have to make sure that our voices are heard – we are the majority and we have to keep fighting.”
Nevin highlighted the meritocracy inherent in football – that clubs and players want to see the best players on the field, no matter who they are or where they come from.
“When a kid watches their favourite football player, whether it’s Thierry Henry, or Eden Hazard, or anyone else, does that kid care about his race or where he’s from? I don’t think he does care. And I think that’s the one big thing above everything else – why football should use its position, because it has a massive influence on kids.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey agreed (pictured below), as he called on all to support Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) by participating in Wear Read Day on October 18.
“Show Racism the Red Card has captured for many years now our beautiful sport,” he said in his speech at Tuesday’s launch event. “It’s been able to use [football] to make certain that the issues surrounding racism, from young children onwards within our society, [are addressed].”
He praised Show Racism the Red Card for going beyond campaigning to simply get rid of racism in football and instead making its ambition to attack racism at its root.
“Racism will always be in football as long as it is still in our society and our communities, and so what Show Racism do [educating young children] is incredible.”
Find out more about Show Racism the Red Card’s Wear Red Day on October 18, and how you can participate and donate, here.
- Pics: Mark Thomas