Video: Norwich City captain Sebastien Bassong’s verdict on the racists who blight the beautiful game
07:30 23 October 2013
“Lack of knowledge, lack of education,” is the way Norwich City team captain Sébastien Bassong summed up racism when he addressed Norfolk schoolchildren at an event showing prejudice the red card at Carrow Road.
In a week where police are investigating alleged online racist abuse aimed at the Canaries’ manager Chris Hughton, about 100 youngsters from four Norfolk schools spent yesterday at the club learning how to tackle racism.
The defender, who also plays for Cameroon, was joined by NCFC winger Nathan Redmond who, when asked to describe racism in three words, said “it’s not cool.”
Bassong told the young people that racism in football mirrors racism in general life, and that it starts by people being afraid of something or someone different, while Redmond told the young people they were the key to helping to tackle racism in the future.
“From me coming from Birmingham, it’s a multicultural city and you learn to go to school with different races and different religions, but I don’t think you will ever understand why it (racism) is still here but the fact that it is, is just something that I think needs to be stopped. But how we stop it, it starts with you lot, the youth,” the England Under-21 player said.
The two footballers were among those taking part in an education day organised by anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, Norfolk County Council and the Study Support Centre based at Carrow Road, and afterwards Bassong spoke to the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press about his own experiences of racism in football.
He said he had been the victim of racism a couple of times by away fans, including after a win at Swansea.
When asked how it felt being targeted by abuse, he said: “It depends, when it happened at Swansea for me, in a split second I went through different moods. First of all I was surprised, then I was gutted, then I was really angry, and at the end I was just like thinking ‘what can I do for it?’
“The authorities were going to handle him and sort him out so hopefully he is going to learn about it and not do it again.”
When asked whether he had spoken this week to Chris Hughton about the current investigation into alleged racist comments about the Norwich City football manager, he said: “No, we don’t speak about that, you know he knows I’ve been abused, I know he’s been abused, but like speaking about it is making it like a huge deal. That’s something I think the authorities are dealing with, or the association, they have taken care of it.”
About the people who are racist on social media in particular, Bassong said: “It’s easier to hide themselves behind a computer or behind a screen, because I am sure most of the people, if they were face to face with us, they wouldn’t even say a word.”
When asked what he felt could be the secret to tackling racism, he said: “No pity, no mercy. It’s like, you’re a grown man, if you want to say something then you are going to take the consequences, and I think that has been the same with hooligans before, years ago, now all the stadiums are clear in England, but years ago there was a lot of trouble in the stadiums but now it has totally disappeared because the authorities have been really strong towards those people, and that is what they have got to do now, and I think that is what they are doing.”
He said events like the one at Carrow Road yesterday were also an important part of the fight against racism.
“That’s how we start because they (young people) are learning about life so they are just going to reproduce what their elders are teaching them, so as young as they could be they have got to be taught that racism is something forbidden, something really bad, no matter which colour you are, no matter where you are from, we are all the same, we are all human beings.”
He said talking to young people and doing work in schools was important, especially in rural areas where there was less multiculturalism than in big cities.
Yesterday’s event involved City Academy Norwich and Open Academy, in Norwich, Framingham Earl High School, and Lynn Grove High School,in Gorleston.
When asked what advice he would give to young people in the fight against racism, Bassong said: “I would say, we are all the same, respect everyone like you would respect your parents, that’s it.”