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The Real Reasons for Racism in Football Bravely Tackled
on 2 October 2012
After a brief Facebook discussion with the author about the subject a couple of weeks ago, I picked up 'Kicking Off' to see how the opinions of Dougie compared with my own and although I'd have to disagree with a small handful of his views on hooliganism, he does raise points which challenge the typical media soundbites that they would rather you believed. I've seen other writers in this genre attacking Dougie for his previous work but in fairness, the world would be a poorer place if our opinions were all the same.
'Kicking Off' doesn't really teach us anything new about hooliganism if we already have a reasonable amount of knowledge on the subject, although Dougie and his views on a more passive modern football culture definitely concur with my own. Where I tend to disagree is the opinion Dougie has on how the hooligan problem has changed. While marginalised, there is still a very strong element of older men who engage in violence more regularly than they should. Until football is rid of them, the problem will always be simmering away with the potential to explode again at any time within the new generation of disenfranchised young supporters. This isn't to say Dougie is wrong; it's just a question that we see the same problem slightly differently and if the book provokes thought, the writer has clearly done his job.
Where the book excels is on the subject of racism in football and Dougie is spot-on with his views that racism is being kept alive in football not by the fans or hooligans, but by the very people who claim to abhor it. Dougie tackles the motives of the anti-racism gravy train with uncanny accuracy and says what many of us have been thinking for years, myself included. He also suggests (correctly) that it is actually the fans who have done more to virtually eradicate racism in football within the UK and not the groups or organisations that continue to live like parasites off the dead body of football in the late 70s and early 80s.
This is one of the more challenging efforts Dougie has written but it maintains the typically simple style that makes it easy for the average fan to read. The entire genre and prejudices of football, hooliganism and racism won't work for those with different ideas to the author. For those who hold a personal dislike to those who were nowhere to be seen when racism was actually a problem, however, 'Kicking Off' will probably reinforce the fact that you shouldn't be uncomfortable with your own perceptions. In truth, you were probably right all along.