'We can't be silent' – Sordell calls for greater awareness of racism

The Bolton striker speaks out after being racially abused during a game against Millwall in October, with the Kick It Out chairman disappointed with progress in tackling the issue
Bolton striker Marvin Sordell insists that "we can't be silent" on the issue of racism in football after being abused by fans at Millwall in October.

The forward, who represented Great Britain at the Olympics in 2012, made his point known as he was speaking to Sky Sports News for a report on the subject prompted in part by his experiences at The Den. The program captured several Milwall fans abusing players in subsequent games in footage that the Metropolitan Police has requested to examine further.

"The first thing that needs to happen is that we can't be silent," Sordell said. "We need to make people aware that there is a problem going on and only when people are aware of that can it be sorted out.

"I wouldn't say [the abuse] is shocking, but it does surprise me. Living in a country which is very developed and so multicultural, it's surprising that it can still go on, but it doesn't exactly shock me.

"Sometimes it does give me that bit of fire and make me want to do better just to prove people wrong and show them that I can rise above it."

"Sometimes it does give me that bit of fire and make me want to do better just to prove people wrong"

- Marvin Sordell

Former Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu described his experience of being subjected to abuse from even fans of very young ages, arguing that the problem must be addressed at a level wider than just football.

"It's been a year wasted. We could have made a lot more progress"
- Lord Ouseley
"We had a game against Grimsby and I was warming up on the sidelines. There was a kid who couldn't have been more than six or seven who was giving me absolute dog's abuse, obviously in a racist form, and the dad was two steps up," Ehiogu recalled. "If you look at that, you just laugh, because it’s not the kid’s fault, really, it's the parents'. Until society's changed, football will always reflect that."

Racism has continued to be an issue across Europe this season, with AZ Alkmaar's American striker Jozy Altidore and AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng being recent victims. Even more recently, AC Milan vice president Paolo Berlusconi casually used a racial slur in referring to the club's new signing, Mario Balotelli.

The chairman of England's anti-racism Kick It Out campaign, Lord Ouseley, added that he is disappointed by the progress made in the fight against racism, including but not limited to the implementation of a 92-point FA plan drawn up in December.

"It's been a year wasted, in a lot of ways, not just with regard to the plan but I think we could have actually cracked on and made a lot more progress in the last year," Ouseley observed.
"The fact is, discrimination is still a factor. Your face 'fitting' is still a factor. Football, at the top, is about a status quo, people who know people."

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