The Week Column - Football has lost its humility and must fight hard to get it back

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 27: Carlos Tevez leaves the stadium after the UEFA Champions League group A match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Manchester City at Allianz Arena on September 27, 2011 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Perhaps booing Patrice Evra for having been racially abused just wasn't enough. A small minority, maybe even one or two, had to cross the ethical borderline and take the wonderful game of football into yet another dispute which puts into question the true moral values of all those who love it. The Liverpool fan, who considered it apt to make monkey gestures - seemingly but not definitely aimed at Evra - has done the whole sport a disservice at the most imperfect time.

But it's not just him. The ongoing case of John Terry and Anton Ferdinand lingers in the air and casts gloom overhead while the likes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, with his comical agent, continue to promote football stories to the front pages, where they should never really be.

Maybe it was bound to happen one day and the last couple of months have represented the eye of the metaphorical storm. Racism took the foreground and cast other, irksome plot lines into the shadow, thus allowing the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson, with their fractious referee-bashing to go wholly unnoticed. It's such a shame that managers of the highest order, not just of contemporary times but of yesteryear too, can bring the game into such a state of disrepute, when all is really needed is an admittance that, just maybe, they'd got things wrong on the day and that, most likely, their hardships would be balanced out come seasons end.

It won't happen though, because they need to protect themselves, first and foremost. And that is just the problem with football right now. It's not the bafflingly vast wages or the influx of foreign stars onto our shores - they're just the oft-recited beliefs of those who fail to see that, ultimately, everyone in football has become a self-obsessed Neanderthal, incapable, on the most part, of emotion, and either lacking any genuine loyalty, or being blindly committed to the extent of defending palpably incriminating actions. While Dalglish will happily sit back and support his key striker with the application of, quite simply, crass apparel in the form of Luis Suarez t-shirts, Tevez is sunning himself on the other side of the World proving that, once and for all, it is possible to get a whole country to hate you.

A new low was reached yesterday, however, with the cancellation of QPR's pre-match hand shake with Chelsea. It proves hard for me to agree with Mark Hughes, but he's right in that it was a necessary precaution to take by the FA - but how saddening is that? We must forego one of the only times that footballer's show genuine respect to one another, in the most part because the governing bodies have been so slow in proving Terry innocent or guilty. This could all be over with now, but the awkwardness still hangs low. Ferdinand is right not to shake his hand, and his team mates are arguably correct in standing by him, but were this dealt with more hastily, we'd all know for sure where we stand.

All the while, our Argentinian friend, on an extended holiday in his homeland, mulls over plausible retirement. On what reasonable grounds? Does he feel sickeningly hard done by, and unjustifiably treated? Has he become bored of not being paid, for not playing football? Or would it just be a publicity stunt? Knowing Tevez, a mixture of the three would probably cover the truth - it's just unfortunate for him that we'd probably rather he did quit football and perhaps enter something more suitable for his egotistical exploits - perhaps he could be a lawyer, or a bent cop. All that talent would go to waste but at least we'd remove a chink from the armour, because football is taking a moral battering right now, and it's getting it from all angles.

What is needed is a long, hard look in the mirror, and an even longer pause for reflection. Something should be done and something can be done about this decline. Racism will eventually depart for good and its link to the football stands will relinquish. Footballers themselves should be made aware of the sanctions that racial slurs bring, taking into account that pulling Suarez and Terry out of football while their cases are closed would make the utmost of sense. Managers will never change, but the respect campaign needs tightening and the sanctions need to be universal.

Meanwhile, Mario Balotelli should probably get a straitjacket, and so should his agent. At least this way, the true face of football can be upheld and we can be proud to fill the back pages yet again.

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