I’ll don some particularly delicate gloves for this topic because it’s always been a very contentious one. But with the majority of official football accounts (clubs, players and pundits) embracing the social media blackout this weekend in a united front against racist abuse, it has prompted a particularly interesting question.
Leeds United player Kiko Casilla was found guilty and charged with a breach of FA Rule E3. The player has maintained his innocence throughout and the club has supported him in this, seemingly not accepting the verdict of the case. This created some lively furore on social media as non-legal people started trying to place their own interpretations on “the balance of probability”, suggesting that the absence of hard evidence makes it a redundant exercise. However the dossier that supported the case was fairly damning – but either way – I’m not trying to contest the basis of that court case of the club’s decision to stand by the goalkeeper.
What I find odd today is that Leeds – like all clubs – have taken the boilerplate statement announcing their participation in the blackout and pretended that there isn’t an elephant in the room. A senior player was found guilty of racially abusing an opponent and it is completely missing from this conversation – and I don’t think it should be.
I completely get that the club is very much damned either way. If they reopen that can of worms it’ll just create drama and division, but glossing over it entirely seems hypocritical.
In my opinion it would have been better for the club to contextualise their support of the blackout by acknowledging that Kiko Casilla was indeed found guilty and obviously has attended his education sessions, but the club (and player) have maintained his innocence and while the verdict is respected, the club do not agree with it. Or something along those lines.
It just doesn’t sit well with me to participate in the fight against racist abuse when we’re trying to gloss over the fact we’ve got a player found guilty of doing exactly that. Even if the club staunchly defend him and insist the court case was inherently flawed, it’s better to be transparent about it than seemingly pretend it never happened.
That’s just my two pence, for all its worth.
Racism in all its forms needs to be eradicated. You need only look at the Twitter feeds of famous players to realise how much abuse they receive quite routinely. I don’t truly know the way out of this problem (I have many opinions about the suggestions of tying social media profiles to verifiable real-world ID) but I do think it’s a good idea that the community stands together this weekend.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 30, 2021