Friday, 18 November 2011

Gus Poyet is no racist - but he should know better

It is not often anything to do with Brighton and Hove Albion trends on Twitter. What a shame then that the first hot topic to come out of the Amex in a month of Old Trafford injury time was built around some hugely disappointing comments from the Albion's numero uno Gustavo Poyet.

The madcap Uruguayan has never been shy in voicing his opinions. In fact, earlier this week he was lauded for speaking of the need to develop the standard of youth football in this country.

And let us be 100 per cent clear: Poyet is no racist.

However, telling a national newspaper that alleged racism victim Patrice Evra was "crying like a baby" is not the sort of thing which should be coming from the mouth - and it would appear, more worryingly, the heart, of a manager in 2011.

Whether the Liverpool striker is found guilty of the FA charge he now faces is beside the point. The Kick It Out Campaign has long told players at all levels to report anything they consider a racially motivated attack. This is not the playground and Evra is not a dobber. He is someone taking a stand against something we all hoped had died a death on the pitch, if not the terraces.

In an interview which appears in today's Guardian, Poyet backed his compatriot Suarez. But he went further than just offering his support to a countrymen currently under attack from all sides. He said, "I played football for seven years in Spain and was called everything because I was from South America, and I never went out crying like a baby, like Patrice Evra, saying that someone had said something to me.

"I'm really sad about this charge as it's going to become too easy. I can make a complaint about any opposition manager and if I take it as far as I can he's going to get charged. Why are we going to take one person's word over another? It's too risky."

Last season Lee Clarke was accused by some Albion fans of making xenophobic comments about Poyet after a bitter contest between his Huddesfield outfit and the Seagulls - but by the time the two sides met at the end of the season, any hint of animosity had been overshadowed by Poyet's war of wards with Southampton boss Nigel Adkins.

Talking about Suarez, who he has taken under his wing somewhat since the striker arrived on Merseyside, Poyet added, "I'm surprised, in a really sad way, that he has been charged. Really sad. I think it's worse to charge someone because you trust one person when you have no proof."

He may have a point, Suarez has been labelled racist since the allegations broke. It seems he does not dispute what he said, rather than he did not mean it in a racist way. Not the most watertight of defences mind...

But if Poyet has been surprised at the haste with which an anti-Suarez witch hunt has been launched, he won't be half as surprised as the many people fighting hard to erradicate racism in football will be by his comments.

Poyet, who celebrated his second anniversary in the Brighton job this week, is loved by the Albion faithful.

Perhaps though, that love will be a little less today.

1 comment:

  1. I entirely agree and have just posted my own thoughts on the matter. It's a major disappointment at a time when he and we should be concentrating on a huge game tomorrow.