Alec Swann - The NBA have shown the way

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

When Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the field during a friendly between AC Milan and Pro Patria in protest at racist chanting from the stands, the enlightened president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, accused him of ‘walking away’.

In a contrast that couldn’t be starker, upon being caught making overtly racist comments, the owner of the NBA franchise LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, was banned from the sport for life, forced to sell his stake and fined $2.5m.

You don’t have to be Einstein to notice the difference, one sport with its head buried deep in the sand and another taking a decisive and direct stand.

‘We’d rather there wasn’t racism in our game but we lack the bottle to do anything about it’ next to ‘we won’t have racism in our game and woe betide anybody who condones or practices it’.

Sterling has said that the comments he made didn’t reflect his views, a different twist on the standard out of context line generally employed.

But in the opinion of Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner: “hateful opinions... simply have no place in the NBA”.

Spot on and the abbreviation at the end of that statement should encompass every sport on the planet and especially those who operate under the public gaze.

Time and again, an incident takes place somewhere in the footballing theatre and is quickly followed by outrage, mock or otherwise, and then a punishment that is so minor as to be laughable, groan-inducing or both.

Monkey chants? A fine of a few grand.

Highly offensive verbal abuse? Take a few games off.

Throwing bananas? One game behind closed doors.

The reluctance to serve up meaningful sanctions does the game a disservice and will continue to do so until they grow a pair of the proverbials and put their foot down.

Racism has no place in sport, or anywhere else for that matter, and unless the root is poisoned it will continue to prosper unchecked.

While extreme - and this is supposed to provide a metaphor of sorts - Stalin once commented ‘death solves all problems - no man, no problem’.

This is no endorsement of homicide but the NBA have shown just how to combat a problem that rears it’s pig-ugly head all too often.

Football, take note.