Having moved to England from Trinidad and Tobago to pursue professional football in the late 1980s — a period when the foreign players were starting to make a mark in the English league – Dwight Yorke remembers the frequent racist remarks directed towards him. At the time, there weren’t any anti-racism rules and even if there were, the issue wasn’t considered to be quite as serious.
“It’s a very touchy subject. I have played and lived in England for the past 24 years and I have played with a lot of black players. I too have been a victim of racist comments,” Yorke said.
There’s little doubt that racism is one of the biggest issues that has marred international football. The ongoing European Championship has witnessed more than once incident of a player being racially abused. In fact, Europe’s governing body UEFA attracted a lot of criticism following its decision to levy a hefty fine on Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner for ambush marketing while not dealing with more serious issues like racism with similar urgency.
He insisted that the FIFA and UEFA are dealing with the subject with a lot of seriousness. He cited the example of England and Chelsea defender John Terry, who will be facing a trial for racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Terry’s case, Yorke suggested, could prove to be a landmark one. “Football has now become a global sport. There’s a minority down there who bring disrespect; we’ve all kinds of people out there. But FIFA is taking it seriously.
The Terry case shows that. What happens there will be very interesting to see,” said Yorke.
Talking about the European championship, Yorke conceded that Spain are the team to beat yet again. “You need a bit of luck some times and they deserved some of it. Spain have been good and whoever meets them in the final will have a huge challenge.
Though I feel Germany can give them a tough time, they have a tough semifinal opponent in Italy. So it’s not easy at all,” he said.
He was also of the opinion that the much-debated goal-line technology will come into place very soon, especially after the fiasco during the Ukraine-England match, where the co-hosts were denied a goal despite the ball crossing the line. “There are additional referees on the lines now. But I think in future this (introduction of goal-line technology) will happen. Too much is at stake,” said the 40-year-old Trinidadian.
Yorke, who was in the city for the Airtel-Manchester United promotional event, said lack of infrastructure and the cricket-crazy attitude is only an excuse and it should not hold India back. “Look at me. I come from a place where we had horrendous grounds.
Even my country is crazy about cricket. Still, I went to England and played for all the top clubs there. It’s not impossible. If you’re good, then you’ll be noticed. And it’s difficult to believe that there aren’t any good players in India,” he said.