Culture, Media and Sport Committee - Racism in FootballWritten evidence submitted by Roy Abraham

I welcome the investigation you are conducting into racism in football. It is indeed a scourge that we as a country should be aiming to eradicate from the game.

Though I am a British-Asian, I do not choose to classify myself as anything other than 27 year-old man who regularly attends England home internationals at Wembley Stadium as well as Liverpool matches at Anfield. I also work for the country’s leading media intelligence organisation Precise. We are tasked with monitoring the media on behalf of various clients and as a result, I have had significant exposure to a lot of the coverage and conjecture around the subject of racism within football within recent months.

The reason for me declaring the aforementioned personal details above is to contextualise my observations. I would like to state firmly that neither my support of Liverpool Football Club nor my ethnicity in any way implies bias when dealing with issues of racism. Simply put, the issue of racism in football is far more important than any tribal loyalties that I or anyone else may have. Much of my commentary here refers to the alleged racial incident between Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker and Patrice Evra, the Manchester United defender and captain.

I would like to surmise my main thoughts on the case in question form so as to allow you to investigate the main issues at hand. These follow a chronological order in terms of the series of events:

1.In reference to Patrice Evra’s interview with Canal Plus, cited in the report, is it proper/correct that an allegation of racism is made about a player via the media? In this instance, the notion that mud sticks is applicable.

2.Would it have been better for the Players Football Association (PFA) to take a leading role in issues of regarding race especially when it involves cultural complexities?

3.Was the length of time the Football Association took to conduct the investigation necessary? Their attention appeared to have been split between this issue and reducing the suspension Wayne.

4.Rooney was handed for violent conduct. This effectively created an incubation period with which the issue was left to fester in the public eye.

5.Is it proper/correct that a player can be found guilty of a charge of racism on the balance of probabilities in the absence of actual evidence?

6.Why was the case itself subsequently mishandled by the FA? There were numerous inconsistencies highlighted here by a football lawyer. Whilst this is not a criminal case, the repercussions for the accused are severe.

7.In what way was the independent regulatory commission put together by the FA, independent?

8.Why was the commission’s report into the findings not made available until three weeks after a guilty verdict was reached?

9.Why was the commission’s 115 page report into the findings released on the evening of 31 December? This appeared calculated to ensure journalists refrain from reading it and instead look at the conclusions, in turn diverting attention away from the process they used to come to the conclusions (which was flawed, severely in some instances).

10.Given the severity of the charge, why is the appeal process limited to appealing the punishment but not the verdict?

11.Why did the executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) brand an Asian fan a “coconut”? Why was this not widely reported? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2098325/Boss-footballs-anti-racism-group-branded-racist-calling-Asian-fan-coconut.html

12.What role have the Media played in determining the agenda that this story has taken? See here for a detailed look into this:

Part 1—http://newsframes.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/media-on-racism-churnalism/

Part 2—http://newsframes.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/media-on-racism-framing/

I will be available to discuss any of the above points, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

February 2012

Prepared 18th September 2012