Saturday, April 20, 2013

Trial by Smartphone

Owen Gibson:

Kick It Out, the campaign group that six months ago on Saturday was the focus of a protest by leading black footballers over the game's response to high-profile incidents of racism, is planning to launch smartphone apps next season that allow players and fans to report anonymously abuse in the stands or dressing room.

The aim is to challenge the dressing-room omertà and fan impotency that have frustrated efforts to change the culture at all levels of the game.

The new apps, one for players and one for spectators, will make it easier and quicker for players and fans to report abuse and there are hopes within Kick It Out that they will give a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem, as well as leading to more sanctions and criminal convictions.

Yes, there certainly are hopes. Mine are more modest; I simply hope that this experiment in crowdsourced snitching and rumormongering will go better than the recent trend toward vigilante sleuthing. Like the poster says, none of us is as dumb as all of us.

As for whether this is truly a serious problem demanding a severe response, I'm willing to take Kenan Malik's word on it:

This is why the current furore over racism seems so bizarre. I cannot remember the last time I faced the kind of abuse that was so common in the eighties.  Racism still exists, of course, and needs always to be confronted, but it is relatively isolated. Indeed, it is precisely because racism is so rare that it seems so shocking when we are confronted with it.

...If racism is not the issue that once it was, why the sudden interest on the part of the football authorities in combating racism? Having spent decades ignoring racism in the sport when it was a real, live issue and required a robust response, the FA is now trying to gain the moral high ground by conducting a war that has largely been won.  It would have taken guts and commitment to have stood up to racism three decades ago. Today, the FA is trying to clamber on to a moral high ground that has long since become crowded.

If the character of racism has changed over the past three decades, so too has the character of antiracism. Antiracism has all too often become less about challenging discrimination or hatred, more about moral posturing. ‘A lot of the issues that we’ve gone on about in the last season or so, it’s more about people driving the issue than the issue being a real focus’, as David James put it.