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The biggest fall from race

FALL: Former anti-racism in football advocate, Paul Elliott

I SHOULD have done it four weeks ago, but I have now deleted Paul Elliott's number from my contacts. I know it's harsh, but I had no choice. Following the former Chelsea defender's black-on-black race rant on former Charlton Athletic defender Richard Rufus, in which he used the ‘n' word pejoratively, he became persona non grata in my phone book.

What would you have done?

This wasn't the first time that Elliott had behaved adversely. A month ago at a party that Trevor Phillips hosted in central London, Elliott was acting rather oddly. I thought he overdid the kissing of the hand when I introduced him to my wife, but he cushioned it with assurances that he's got all her records and that she is the undisputed queen of lovers’ rock and he had always wanted to meet her etc. So I just 'llowed it.

But then, for some inexplicable reason, he started talking to me in patois and saying “You must tek care of yuh baby mudda... Yuh baby mudda, tek care of her."

Of course, I laughed. Surely, it couldn't be anything but a joke, even though he said it over and over and over again. In the car on the way home my wife suggested that I was exaggerating about his odd behaviour. All she was concerned about was that he was a big fan of hers. So I left it.

I wish I hadn't. I should have taken Paul to one side and had a word in his ear about what was appropriate and what was inappropriate behaviour for a man of his stature. He was after all the most prominent anti-racism campaigner in football, a spokesperson for Kick It Out and a prospective first black chairman in the Football League (he was mooted as the next chairman for Charlton Athletic).

ILL-ADVISED

But all of that came crashing to the ground when his ill-advised choice of language towards Richard Rufus was made public. The Daily Mail had a field day and so did everybody else.

In his defence, Paul Elliott attributed his use of the ‘n' word to a moment of madness.

It may have been a moment of madness for Elliott, but some moments of madness are unforgivable. I have never had any such moment of madness and, believe me I have had my fair share of moments of madness. So why haven't I turned to any black person in my life and called them a “n*****"? Why haven't I done a Django Unchained on them?

Obviously I've got class. But so does Paul Elliott. Or so I thought. He certainly used to look classy when he used to be a pundit on Channel 4's Italian football programme. So it's not about class. It's about who you really are. I have no ‘n' word in my DNA, at least not used in a pejorative way against my brother man. I can use the word, but not as a term of abuse. That is who I am. That is who I believe my friends are. That is why I had to delete Paul Elliott's phone number from my friends list.

Simon Woolley of OBV (Operation Black Vote) says we should not condemn Elliott entirely, that the former footballer’s 20 years or so of struggle in the fight to kick racism out of football should be taken into consideration.

Maybe it should be. But it won't be.

There is of course the possibility that Paul Elliott is or might be going through a crisis in his life. If that is the case, Paul, you need help. I am saying this as someone who still holds a smidgen of hope that you are not the hypocrite that everybody is saying you are.

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