Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Darren Bent’s escapades on Twitter have drawn interest from the media in recent times. The English striker was back in the papers for his online comments following Sunderland’s defeat at Wigan Athletic.
The ex-Tottenham forward alleged that his mother, Shirley, had been the victim of racial abuse by one of his team’s own supporters:
“So we get beat by wigan and to make matters worse my mum gets racially abused by a SUNDERLAND fan. I wont stand for that.”
Neither have the Greater Manchester Police force. Their Northumbrian counterparts arrested a 26-year-old man in Chester-le-Street yesterday evening in connection with the incident. The man has been bailed on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment until Jan. 12.
It is understood that officials at Sunderland Football Club helped trace the culprit, though just how big a role they played is unclear, as the incident is alleged to have taken place in a Manchester pub just before the game.
That the police moved swiftly in this instance should be commended, but I wonder just how quickly and seriously the police would have taken this case had the victim not been the mother of a Premier League footballer who revealed the incident in such a public forum.
Racism still simmers at the furrows of our society, as a Panorama documentary revealed earlier this year.
Growing up in Sunderland, I’ve heard vile racial slurs spewed at footballers from the stands of the Stadium of Light and sat back disgusted as stewards took absolutely no action. Some of my closest friends have told me stories of how they were spat at walking to school and had dog dirt thrown at them in the street.
My mother talks of head teachers showing indifference towards incidences of racial discrimination.
These memories had faded with time, but their embers are being rekindled as the sparks of this scandal fly.
Admittedly, I have no idea about the details in this particular incident. Have the police acted because the allegations are particularly shocking, or because they are more high profile? I have my suspicions.
It seems like people want to give racism red cards and 'kick it out' of football, yet are willing to accept it in other walks of life.
My mind fills with echoes of Kanye West: “Racism’s still alive, they just be concealing it.”