'Kick the racists out of competitions' - Wigan Athletic boss
Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook insists ‘kicking teams out of competitions’ is the only way to boot racism out of football for good.
The issue made worldwide headlines againon Monday night as sections of the Bulgarian support racially abused England’s black players and performed Nazi salutes during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.
The English top flight will be promoting its No Room For Racism campaign over the next two weekends of Premier League action, with clubs broadcasting videos in support of the initiative on stadium big screens.
Latics' visit of Nottingham Forest tomorrow – live on Sky Sports – is dedicated to raising awareness for the work of Kick it Out and Latics’ Together programme.
A number of people from the borough, who perhaps don’t regularly attend Latics’ fixtures, have been invited, while participants from Latics’ Extra Time Hub, Premier League Kicks inclusive sessions, Wigan Mosque and the club’s School of the Week St Bernadette’s from Shevington, have been invited.
And Cook says decisive action on eradicating the scourge of racism is long, long overdue.
“Whatever people say about the matter, it’s still not enough,” Cook insisted.
“It’s just the sadness of the world we live in today...will we ever be able to eradicate racism? I’m not so sure we will.
“Unfortunately for the rest of us, there’s an element who continually want to cause problems and controversy.
“From my point of view, making the punishment as strong as possible is the only way forward.
“If that means that a lot suffer for the actions of a few, that’s the way it’s got to be.
“Because we’ve got to stamp this out.”
The question of whether players should walk off the field should the abuse get so bad has been a major talking point this week.
Cook reckons it comes down to each individual person and how they react.
“I think it’s very much a personal thing – what does each individual player think is right,” he opined.
“Of course it’s not right and it’s not correct, and we must try and protect players as much as we can.
“But is walking off the field the right thing to do? I’m not so sure.
“Because that means the idiots will think they’ve won.
“The penalties have to be stronger - and I think we will see them really, really grow.
”I played a long time ago when there was a lot more racism around.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s always been down to education, and ensuring people are better educated.
“As we move forward into the modern day, why we’re still talking about it, why it’s still going on...it’s just a sad state of affairs.
“We have to do something about it now...and I’m talking about kicking teams out of competitions.”