THE very fact that the racial abuse suffered by Oldham Athletic defender Tom Adeyemi has caused such a furore indicates the change that has taken place in football since the dismal days of the Seventies and Eighties when racial insults were commonplace and the type of slur directed by a Liverpool fan at Mr Adeyemi would – astonishingly - have passed without comment.
Yet the fact that it occurred at all shows that, in spite of football’s declared determination to stamp out racism, the game is still infected by this poison, as the testimonies of too many other players confirm.
Racism, of course, is not football’s problem alone. Its unwelcome appearance at matches is purely a symptom of a disease still rife in society at large. But it is precisely because football has such a prominent place in that society, with players and managers alike being idolised as role models, that it cannot be seen to show any tolerance towards racism. And this must mean showing the door to any fan, official or player who utters any form of racial abuse.