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Herman Ouseley: Black footballers must realise their power

BLACK POWER: Lord Ouseley wants players to do more against racism in the game (PA)

BLACK FOOTBALLERS need to realise how powerful they are in the fight to stamp out racism both on and off the pitch, according to Lord Herman Ouseley.

The chairman of Kick It Out (KIO), the organisation which challenges discrimination in the sport, was responding to those who told him that KIO was nothing more than "a joke" and far tougher sanctions were needed in the game.

Ouseley, former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality was giving the inaugural lecture at the University of Birmingham’s newly launched Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE), which was officially opened in February by Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.

KIO's leader agreed with veteran community activist Maxie Hayles, who challenged the purpose of KIO adding that he had said to black players many times that they simply do not seem to realise what power they can wield.

But Ouseley said: “It’s no good players tweeting that they have been abused after matches. They need to make sure the referee knows while the game is still playing.

"Sanctions have to be much tougher.”

Rather than giving a formal lecture, Guyana-born Ouseley, answered questions posed by Dr Nicola Rollock, the CRRE’s deputy director on the theme of ‘Different realities: from colour bar to post racial Britain.’

A former local Government officer for 30 years, working at chief officer level, Ouseley recalled the name calling he experienced when he first arrived in London as a small child, not realising it was verbal abuse. The glass in the windows where his family lodged was eventually completely smashed by people throwing milk bottles on a regular basis.

He remembers being stopped in the street in the 1950s by people saying: "We didn’t win the war for people like you to take our homes and our jobs."

He said: “At the time I didn’t know much about World War Two, but I soon found out that people from the West Indies and Asia had died in their thousands fighting in the war.

“I feel the only time when we are completely free of prejudice is when we have just emerged from the womb.”

Ouseley said he felt that "activism had been knocked out" of people because easier times had sanitised many issues and those who had worked their way into the system now sat comfortably within it.

“I’m not advocating this but sometimes I feel we need to get back to confrontation on the streets. You only get movement when there is confrontation. A crisis triggers that consciousness.”

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