Guest blog from Emy Onuora
(Emy Onoura is the author of Pitch Black. Emy Onuora has an MA in Ethnic Studies and Race Relations from the University of Liverpool and has lectured extensively on issues of Race and Sport within higher education)
Raheem Sterling’s willingness to put himself forward as the spokesperson for a generation of black footballers is commendable, if only in the context of previous generations of footballers who were forced to suffer racist abuse in silence, even in some cases going as far as to insist that they used racist abuse as a motivator for improved performance. His challenge to the game’s leaders and opposition fans, and support for his team mates has marked a significant shift in black footballers demand to be treated with respect and dignity, has given other players the confidence to speak out and demand change. However, it’s his focus on racist attitudes within the media that’s had the most wide-ranging impact.
Sterling highlighted how his City team-mates, one black and one white received very different treatment by the Daily Mail. Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden had each purchased a home. The headline on the Adarabioyo story read “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25 million despite having never started a Premier League match.” The headline for his white team mate Foden, read “Manchester City starlet Phil Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.”
Sterling’s exposé prompted several days of hand-wringing and self-reflection from both the print and TV media. They openly wondered how it could be that they could be so discriminatory and how it was they had no or few minorities in their newsrooms or making editorial decisions. They began to throw around terms like unconscious bias and wondered what they could be done to make sports media more reflective of the range of diverse groups who love and have a stake in the game.
However, clearly missing from the debate was any detailed discussion of the role that the mainstream media plays in generating and supporting a climate of outright hostility and overt racism against immigrants, their children and grandchildren, inner-city youths, black music, black crime, black gangs, black parents and so on and so on, all of it designed to generate click-bait and sell papers and generate advertising revenue.
Football as has been said often and quite correctly, reflects society, and the rise in racist incidents both in English and European football, is a reflection of an environment that serves to empower the far-right and racists more widely, and is fuelled by the normalising of hateful ideas, speeches and actions by mainstream politicians and mainstream and social media.
Outside the rarified environment of football, there has been a significant rise in racist violence against groups and individuals, and increased racist attacks on mosques, synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, but the media’s willingness to support opposition to racism on its back pages, enables the same business-as-usual hate-filled, opinion pieces, leader comments, headlines and articles to be written about minority groups on its front pages. What’s happened, is that In football parlance, the sports departments have taken one for the team. This has allowed the blame to be shifted to sports journalism, and enable the media to state its commitment to anti-racism in football while its hostile reporting continues.
Of course, the fact that in 2019, Sterling, Danny Rose and other black footballers are still the cause of debate as to how they should be protected, reflects the fact that football’s leadership has never prioritised their duty of care, to allow them to play free from racist abuse is an indictment of the game we all love and of the society we are all a part of and have a stake in. Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, Wilfred Zaha and many other high profile and not so well-know players are doing us all a favour and reminding us that to create a society free from discrimination, requires opposition to racism not just when it concerns football, but also when it is actively fostered by those with the means and power to shape and form opinions.
Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. As part of the Volunteer Spotlight series we will be meeting up with volunteers who have been making outstanding contributions to the organisation and finding out more about the work that they do.
For this month’s spotlight, I was able to make my way to the waterfront in the beautiful February sunshine (hopefully not too much of a distant memory by the time you read this) to meet Andrew Richardson, a Regional Archaeology volunteer who volunteers with Vanessa Oakden, Curator of Regional and Community Archaeology in National Museums Liverpool’s Archaeology department. Read more…
This International Women’s Day we are ‘kicking off’ a new project looking at the stories of women football fans. Researcher Jacqueline McAssey tells us more-
“In 2013, to highlight the lack of visibility of female football fans, and to give them a sense of belonging in a predominantly male dominated environment I began photographing women and girls of all ages and ethnicities at football grounds in the U.K. At the end of each season I published the photographs in a fanzine called ‘GIRLFANS’ – most recently at Celtic FC in their double-treble winning season.
As the project developed I always enjoyed talking to supporters, particularly older women; season ticket holders who travelled home and away, who still wore football shirts and who knew everything about football. They told me of the deep bonds they had made with their club, their families and friends because of football, and I felt as though these stories and experiences had not been told before. In the race to attract new fans to football I often thought of them as the forgotten supporters; the over 40s, over 60s, over 80s even.
In a 2017 interview with Mundial Magazine I talked about a new sister project; a ‘prequel’ to the original photo-fanzine. This project, ‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ would document the experiences of older fans who watched football before the Premier League formed in 1992, or before England won the World Cup in 1966 – as far back as possible.
It is especially significant to be able to launch this project at the Museum of Liverpool, in a city where terrace culture, terrace style and the escapades of male fans have been well documented, and are still talked about today. In an attempt to redress the issue of womens’ experiences going unheard, ‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ is a collection of stories by life-long female supporters of Everton, Liverpool, Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United.”
On 9 March at our Girl fans kicking off event we will be showing some of the images Jacqui has already collected as well as showcasing some vintage football shirts from some favourite teams.
Kick-off is at 11am and Jacqui will be on hand to talk about her project and let you know how you can get involved. If your team has played at any point in the Premier League please come and share your experiences of what it means to be a female football fan with Jacqui.
‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ is supported by Liverpool John Moores University and Studio Dotto.
Liverpool Tramcar 245, restored by a partnership between National Museums Liverpool, Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (MTPS) and Wirral Borough Council over a six year period, was launched back into service on 12 September 2015.
Following on from winning Tram of the Year for 2015 it has now been voted the Heritage Railway Association ‘Carriage and Wagon Award for self propelled vehicles.’
The award was presented by railway enthusiast and record producer Pete Waterman at a ceremony in Birmingham on 9 February. Rob Jones from MTPS proudly collected the award on behalf of the partners in the restoration project. Read more…
While all objects in museum collections are highly valued for the information they tell us about our shared past and culture, just a few are also officially classed as ‘Treasure’! While this is a romantic term, it’s also a closely defined group of objects made from precious metals, or prehistoric metal objects. Read more…
18 February 2019 by Kay
15 February 2019 by Kay
In the lead up to our OUTing the Past Festival of LGBT History at the Museum of Liverpool, 23 February, we will be sharing blogs from our wonderful speakers.
Fourth up is Natasha Walker who was recently appointed co-chair of Switchboard.
She tells us more – Read more…
8 February 2019 by Clare
Clare Cunliffe, Assistant Curator Museum of Liverpool, writes about the temporary Museum of Liverpool atrium display celebrating the 40th anniversary of the BBC’s hit children’s show Grange Hill. The display includes a variety of associated objects from the programme, kindly loaned by the Liverpool writer Phil Redmond CBE. Read more…