The barrister Heather Rabbatts has said that the Football Association commission on the state of the England team, led by Greg Dyke (above), does not reflect black and ethnic minorities. Therefore she concludes that it is "unsustainable" in its present form.
|Heather Rabbatts, barrister, and also Society of Black Lawyers?|
|Peter Herbert, barrister, Society of Black Lawyers|
Some commentators have said that Heather Rabbatts's intervention has derailed the commission. It can easily be argued that this was her intention.
It's also worth bearing in mind that this commission wasn't actually set up to inquire into race and diversity in the England football team or even in English football generally. Yet that's what people like Heather Rabbatts seem to want it to now do. I don't know, will 'racial education', as the Society of Black Lawyers' Peter Herbert put it, improve the England football team somehow?
One point that hasn't been mentioned – deliberately so in some instances – is that at least two black people were offered a job on the commission: they turned it down.
It's also interesting to note that it is two 'progressive' barristers who've fought these most recent and newsworthy anti-racism battles: Peter Herbert (in the Roy Hodgson money-joke case) and now Ms Rabbatts. I can't help but wonder if she is also a member of Mr Herbert's Society of Black Lawyers. (Can you be a member of this racist society if you're only mixed-race, as Rabbatts is?)
Rabbatts also said something rather odd: she said that it was impossible for the commission to consider matters of nationality without including someone from the black or ethnic communities.
I don't understand that statement. I thought it was all to do with race. What has nationality got to do with this? Aren't black players British nationals, according to Heather Rabbatts? If a white person had talked about nationality in this context, all hell would have been let loose.
In any case, Greg Dyke has found a suitable black player, Rio Ferdinand, to join the commission. However, that's not enough. Now Ms Rabbatts and others have accused Greg Dyke and the FA of racial "tokenism".
They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Rabbatts has damned the commission for not including black players; now she's damning it because it has included a black player (at the same time discounting the fact that two black players turned down a role in the commission before this furore).
If it's deemed to be tokenism that the FA commission has now employed Rio Ferdinand, this suggests that Ms Rabbatts wants more than one black person on it. So how many more? Half the total, perhaps? But wouldn't that be racial bias in the opposite direction? Because even though there are many black players involved in English football, they still make up far less than half the total of all players in the football leagues.
If she is calling for yet more positive discrimination in favour of blacks, that is precisely the sort of thing which makes many whites more racist, not less so.
In any case, does Heather Rabbatts actually know anything about football, or has she been placed on the FA board because she's black, a woman and also a barrister? As talkSPORT presenters are always saying, the executives of football teams and other bodies often know virtually nothing about football and are only there because they are bigwigs with lots of money and a little bit of business knowledge. Rabbatts herself was appointed Deputy Executive Chair of Millwall in 2006 and joined the FA board in 2011.
BBC has described Ms Rabbatts' intervention as being "the most damaging blow yet to Football Association chairman Greg Dyke's commission". The BBC also said that she sent a "damning letter to fellow board members".
No! It wasn't a damaging blow at all! It wasn't a damning letter either. Such things only become damaging or damning because the BBC – and other media outlets – decide that's want they want them to be. In themselves, Heather Rabbatts's criticisms wouldn't have caused a ripple. It's the BBC that wants to cause a storm by using precisely the words it has used.
The BBC, as the media often do, helps create stories rather than merely report them. In this case it has editorialised to make the situation come out as a "damaging blow to the FA commission"; which is precisely what these BBC journalists want.
The BBC thinks that the FA commission is racist, which is why it has come to the defence of Rabbatts with its sly editorialising and political bias. Ms Rabbatts is a convenient vehicle through which the BBC can express it own political views on these matters.