We interviewed the former Norwich, Palace and Wolves player who is currently Player-Coach at Welsh club Colwyn Bay FC.
Ade Akinbiyi. Interview
Q1. Have you experienced racism when you were playing?
I have not personally been on the receiving end of any racism directly whilst I was playing, although this may be because when I am playing I am in my zone and close out negativity. I have however been informed by family members and friends that they have witnessed racist behaviour towards myself and other team mates whilst I have been on the pitch.
Q2. Having played in international competitions, have you noticed any racism when you have been playing away?
Again I am unaware of any incidences but hear that they occur.
Q3. Do you believe racism is still an issue in sport & society?
Yes, unfortunately it definitely still exists in many aspects of life.
Q4. How do you handle dealing with racism?
Racism is out of my control. All I can do is be myself and be a good Christian like my mum brought me up to be. If someone has an issue with me due to the colour of my skin, then this is their problem not mine. God made me this way and I am proud of who I am.
Q5. What advice would you give to any young person experiencing Racism?
I would advise them to stay strong in themselves and speak up. Ignorance can only be overturned by awareness.
Q6. What more can clubs and the football associations do to help challenge racism both on and off the pitch?
There is a lot that could still be done, education is key! It is vital that players and ex players are involved in the process too, perhaps by getting players/ex-players to go out to schools and talk to children about these issues.
Prevention would be better than cure of course, but it is also important that there are clear consequences for racist behaviour in all realms of society that are followed through and consistent. Children often copy behaviour and if a good example is being set then children will follow.
Q7. Is there anything that players can do to help stop racism?
Definitely, players are in a fortunate position where they have a captive audience already because of the nature of the profession, so is vital they use this position as a vehicle for doing good and setting a good example.
Q8. What do you think should be done with fans that are found guilty of being racist?
Like I said, it needs to be consistent in all aspects of life not just football. I don't think there is any place in any aspect of society for racist behaviour. If a spectator at the opera for example hurled out racist abuse at the performers, I am pretty confident that they would be arrested and most likely banned from future attendance. Prolific racist behaviour has to result in permanent exclusion from the football terraces, these fans are not there for the love of football.
Q9. Do you think that players of all ages should be educated about what racism is along with the consequences of being racist and how to deal with and report racism?
Definitely! I really believe racism is just ignorance. If a child is not taught at home it is vital that awareness if provided elsewhere. There needs to be clear consistent consequences not empty threats.
Q10. How important do you think that SRtRC work is with educating young people about racism through the medium of sport / football?
Hugely important! Even the title suggests to the children that racism isn't acceptable. It is a great initiative.
Q11. How have you found playing for a Welsh club? Have you come across any issues since you have been at Colwyn Bay?
I personally have not experienced any issues regarding my skin colour or witnessed any racist incidents towards the manager (Frank Sinclair). Opposing fans from time to time display racism towards the team being Welsh, which is not acceptable and is a bad example to set in front of children. Although it is done in jest, it is still offensive to the Welsh Colwyn Bay fans and should not be deemed acceptable.
Q12. Any final thoughts?
In summary education is key! Raising awareness to children is a step in the right direction. Perhaps parents should be involved in the process also so that they can reinforce at home what the children learn. It should also be easier for the players affected to report, otherwise the problem will never be resolved.