Morpeth Town's Player-Manager recently received racist abuse during a game. He came to see Show Racism the Red Card to share his experiences.
Trevor Benjamin is an English born Jamaican ex-international footballer; he made more than 350 appearances in the Football League between 1995 and 2008 and represented twenty-eight different clubs at senior level. He is now player-manager of Non-League side Morpeth Town. Trevor recently received racist abuse from an opposition player during a match and came to see Show Racism the Red Card to share his experiences.
You recently received racist abuse during a game; could you tell us what happened?
Basically it was just a bit of a scuffle in the box as you do in the game, a bit of pushing and shoving to get it all going. Anyway, I backed into the goalkeeper as the ball had came in and I can’t repeat what was said, but it was a really offensive racist comment.
What was your reaction?
I turned round in shock - don’t get it me wrong, I wasn’t happy about it at all but again I had to be quite professional – especially as Player-Manager - and think about my team mates and not react to it and hold back.
Over the last 10 years, racism within football has got better… I actually thought it had gone from the game. It makes me sad to realise that some people haven’t really moved on past that point. It actually made me think afterwards, “Do I still want to be here, do I really want to play football?” because of comments from other people.
What has been the reaction of your club and of your team mates?
The club obviously reported it straight away and the story has gone round quite quickly. And we’ve had good reaction from yourselves and Kick it Out. So that’s positive for me because it shows we’re trying to do something about it.
Is this the first time you’ve experienced any racism within football?
No, when I was at Leicester playing in the UEFA cup against Red Star Belgrade, there was a bit then from the fans. That happened about 10 years ago, when you would hear racism from the fans, but we’ve moved on from there.
I’ve never had any racist abuse from a fellow footballer before though, so I’ve been shocked by this incident.
Do you believe that racism still is a problem within society?
I think it's still a problem. Don't get me wrong, I think we've moved on quite far - certainly within football. A lot of organisations like yourself have been working together to get rid of racism. It is working and we're going in the right direction - we just have to keep going!
Do you think footballers can have a positive influence on young people?
Fingers crossed, myself and other footballers can come along and explain about racism in football and how we've been treated in life; I hope our experiences can help young people to learn about racism and the impact it has on people.
How big an impact do you think racism can have on people’s lives?
I was playing in a youth team game in Cambridge. One of our lads, he was a black lad and during the match something was shouted from the crowd. At half time we went into the dressing room and he was crying because he was so upset. It’s scary how a young lad like that can be affected by it so much.
What would be your advice to someone that has experienced racism?
From the experience that I’ve just had, I would say don’t react negatively. I think I’ve done the right thing: it’s really important to report it. It’s great that I can come to organisations such as yourselves and Kick it Out and express myself and you understand where I’m coming from and can do something about it.
Thank you for speaking to us and sharing your experience.
Thank you for inviting me!