Roberto Martinez Interview 2015


’Did you ever come across racism when you were growing up?’’

Martinez: ‘’ No I didn’t, I was brought up in a very different environment to where we are now. Back in Spain it was never an issue, it was something I wasn’t aware of until I came to the UK in 1995’’

‘’If it was a young person suffering from racism, what advice would you give them?’’

Martinez: ‘’ I think racism is a very difficult situation, I don’t think it should be taken lightly by anybody. Nobody should suffer racism and it should be made clear to whoever’s in charge of whichever organisation or team you are in, making them aware and be confident in doing that. It’s wrong behaviour for anyone to try and racist and that is a strong term but, there are people who do know what they are doing with their behaviour and they need to be targeted by highlighting any kind of comment or abuse suffered. And it should be dealt with straight away and not taken lightly at all.’’

‘’If somebody said to you that they were the victims of racism but they had earned to accept it and they didn’t want to make a fuss about it, what would you say to them?’

Martinez: ‘’ I wouldn’t be happy, just to accept it is so wrong. I don’t think that that can be part of our values as individuals you need to respect and be happy with your life, not coming to accept something that is so wrong and we shouldn’t allow any youngster to go through a situation like that. My message would be very clear and stand up against it. Sometimes it is just a lack of education on the abusers part, that they are doing that to others. So they need to be told that it is an issue and that it must be dealt with.’’

"Some people are too afraid to report racism, what advice would you have for those people?’’

Martinez: ‘’Not to be afraid at all, I think everyone is there to support you and tackle it and provide a safe environment. Nobody should have to suffer racism and that is something that we all agree with. As an individual sometimes you can feel as though you are fighting against the world and that’s not the case, you are supported and do not accept that type of behaviour. As a young person suffering from racism you should make sure that the people in charge aware and deal with the situation. It’s something in which we have made massive massive progress in over the years and it is still something we have zero tolerance for and it is important everyone is aware of that.’’

‘’Do you think football provides a good example of the value of people working together from different backgrounds?

Martinez: ‘’Totally, I think every game in the dressing room there is a clear example of that, in a football team you need to rely on every individual. You have individual from many different backgrounds, different background it makes the team what it is.  Sometimes it is the talent that brings or the different ways of handling pressure or face adversity. It is great to have an open mind with a team and all the little qualities it brings, it is richer with different nationalities and the dressing room is a clear example of that. It is a fascinating way of building a team of different individuals.’’

‘’As a manager have you ever had to deal with a situation where one of your players is being racially abused? What did you do and if not what would you do?’’

Martinez: ‘’No I have never been in a situation when that has happened but, I think it is important that from the first day you instil a certain set of values and a daily routine and workload to create respect and that has always been great between the team and everyone representing the club. I think that the issues that you see sometimes is when the crowd is demonstrating some kind of behaviour towards certain individuals , I have never experienced this but it is something that I would never tolerate, it is unacceptable behaviour and it should be highlighted for the authorities to deal with.’’

‘’What do you think leads people to act in a racist way or to use racist language?’

Martinez: ‘’ I don’t know, I think that its lack of education or not being aware of the behaviour they are choosing. I’m sure deep down every person has a strong set of values of the way they are but I don’t think that racism is anything that a person should choose, but probably from certain environments people develop behaviour that they don’t see as hurtful or how wrong it is. And I want to believe that this is the main reason people can behave like that, that it is more a lack of education and understanding about what they are doing’’’

‘’If you could give one piece of advice to someone who has used racist language, or acted in a racist way what would you tell them?’’

Martinez: ‘’ That it is a real shameful way of behaving and that it is important to understand others. If you want to be happy and successful those are some strong values you should have as a human being and try and find out, discover the effect of that behaviour on someone that is receiving it. That is something that is very important, people do things without thinking and without thinking about the person at the receiving end. Racism is one of those situations when they are clearly wrong and it could be very damaging to an individual, people who have been racist need to be aware of this and make amends quickly.’’

‘’Does football have a role to play in helping to tackle racism?’’

Martinez: ‘’Yes definitely, I think football like any other sport is a great vehicle to educate people and especially youngsters. Football; I think the way the sport is now, its level is probably one of the biggest sports, you share a lot of emotions and dreams and I think that is a perfect way to teach lessons especially to the younger generations. Football could be the perfect vehicle to drive out wrong and racism is clearly an issue that could never be given a platform and should be treated with zero-tolerance’’

‘’Would you say that coming to a different country, living and working there has a different or a better person?’’

Martinez: ‘’Yes, absolutely and I encourage any youngster to travel and open your mind. Obviously life is full of different ways of working and different ways to understand situations. The more you travel and learn about other cultures the more possibilities there are to you to pick how you work and live your life. Meeting different cultures allows you to do that so you are a little bit more of a relaxed person with an understanding that you can do stuff in different ways and everything in life is not black or white there are many different solutions. And I encourage any young person to travel and experiment before you really settle as a person and have your family, it makes you a more understanding person which makes you more respectful to others. But, be very clear on what you want to be.’’

’Do you think within the UK as a society that we have progressed in dealing with racism’’

Martinez: ‘’I want to believe that that is the case, obviously I have never see racism first hand in any of the dressings rooms I have been in or other walks of life, so it is difficult for me to see on what level racism is a problem. But I see people being more aware and that what could be seen as a simple comment could actually be very hurtful. We are educating people around the world, but I think you are still looking at certain countries where they don’t see it that way, it is a long standing battle that we all need to take on together but I feel we have made progress in this respect in the UK and especially in the premier league, with the multi-cultural way of building teams you need to be more understanding of each other and accept everyone for what they bring to the team and that has helped huge progress with cultural issues.

‘’As you just said about having players with different needs and issues arising from different cultures and religions what is your experience in managing these needs and issues.’’

Martinez: ‘’That is probably the difference between the Premier League and the other leagues, The Championship, League 1 and 2 they are very much a one way of thinking in the dressing room. In the Premier League you have lots of cultures and lots of ways of thinking, it becomes very different. I think this is the key to developing a successful team; to understand every individual for what they are and try to understand the culture in which they have been brought up. I have had that in abundance in many dressing rooms, I’ve had up to 22 different nationalities in a dressing room. You can imagine if you didn’t understand how players are going to react after a big defeat it is going to affect your ability to keep control of a team mentality. That is the fascinating element of managing in the Premier League and it is something I encourage young managers to find out about, different cultures and footballing educations of players, to understand them and how they react in such a big emotional game’’