Emile Heskey claims racism in football was 'brushed off as banter'

‘If I made a bad pass, the shout would be “have you been on the wacky baccy?”‘: Emile Heskey claims racism in football was ‘brushed off as banter’ as ex-Liverpool star recalls vile abuse he suffered during his playing days

  • Ex-England international Emile Heskey spoke out about racism within football
  • Players have recently united in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement
  • They have been determined to unite against global protests about racism
  • Heskey reflected on experiences with racism to The Gary Newbon Sports Show

Emile Heskey has spoken out about racism within football and revealed how it used to get brushed off as banter during his playing days.

The subject of racism is at the centre of everyone’s minds currently with Premier League stars coming together to show their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Stars have been determined to unite behind global protests which followed the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States, and during the first 12 matches of the Premier League’s restart, every player replaced their names with ‘Black Lives Matter’ across the back of the shirts.

Emile Heskey has detailed the horrific racism that he encountered during his playing days

And Heskey has since had his say on the racism that still remains in football, claiming that much more still needs to be done while reflecting on his playing days and the vile abuse he used to suffer.

The former England, Liverpool and Leicester striker told The Gary Newbon Sports Show: ‘The racism, that we would class as racism, we get in the UK was brushed off as banter. 

‘Like I said, my parents didn’t smoke, but if I was to make a bad pass, the shout would be “have you been on that wacky baccy?”. 

‘I was like I don’t smoke, my mum or dad don’t smoke, so what do you mean. I kind of just brushed it off. You wouldn’t see them saying that to a white player if they did a bad pass or something. It would be something different.’

The 42-year-old then went on to reveal some of the horrific racism he experienced while playing abroad for England.  

Heskey made 62 appearances for England, while also playing for Liverpool and Leicester

When asked about the abuse on his travels, Heskey replied: ‘Obviously with England Under 21s I got it when we were playing Yugoslavia. Obviously Yugoslavia were going through what they were going through and then split up.

‘We played them and had to play in a neutral stadium which was in Barcelona. It was at their reserve stadium, nice stadium but small, and you got a guy in the crowd shouting “Kunta Kinte, hey Kunta Kinte” every time I touched the ball. Kunta Kinte is just an African slave. 

‘And then you get the monkey chants from when I was playing for England against Slovakia and Croatia.’

But despite his awful experiences in the past, and what many still encounter to this day, Heskey insists there is still not enough support and action from governing bodies such as UEFA and FIFA when players call it out.

Heskey said: ‘It’s not nice at the end of the day but what can I do. I can complain to the FA, what are they going to do. Complain to FIFA, what are they going to do.’

Heskey insists there is still not enough support from governing bodies such as UEFA and FIFA

He then added: ‘You know what it is, I don’t think they are terrible. But the thing is, it’s about understanding. They don’t come and ask you, sit down with me or sit down with Rhian Brewster or sit down with Sol or sit down with someone who is going through that and understand, and try to understand, and try to get us to explain what we are going through and why it is wrong. 

‘Again, the only thing they think about is “oh it’s not that bad”. And I have heard commentators say that as well. I’ve heard people I would class as friends saying things like, “it’s not that bad here, it’s worse abroad”. 

‘Well how do you know? How do you know it’s not that bad here but it’s worse abroad. You just see what you see. You haven’t felt what I feel. So how do you know it’s bad?

‘And this is the thing, you don’t take the time to sit down and listen and talk to the people who are actually going through this. It is getting to the point where people are actually starting to stop talking, and listening to what people are actually saying.’

The Gary Newbon Sports Show, with @Punching.TV, and in association with MailOnline Sport, will be streamed live every Thursday #GNSS




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