Sunday, September 23, 2018

Atkinson “fed up” of apologising over Desailly slur

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Nov 2016


Ron Atkinson is “fed up” of apologising for the racial slur he directed towards Marcel Desailly in 2004 that effectively ended the former Manchester United manager’s career as a respected football pundit.

Following Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat to Monaco in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final, Atkinson said of the French World Cup winner, “he’s what is known in some schools as a f****** lazy, thick n*****”.

The remarks were picked up by microphones that should have been switched off once the UK broadcast of the match concluded and aired in several countries across the Middle East.

Atkinson recently released his autobiography “The Manager”, where he addresses the incident and he told Omnisport he felt there was little more he could do in terms of saying sorry.

He said: “I am fed up of apologising – [former England manager] Terry Venables rang me up once and he said, ‘when are you going to stop apologising?’ And I thought, ‘ah, you’re right’.”

Atkinson’s fall from grace was particularly marked given he oversaw a revered West Brom side during the late 1970s, with Cyril Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson playing starring roles at a time when racist abuse from the terraces remained shamefully rife in the English game.

“When other clubs wouldn’t use black players, I used plenty of them,” he said.

“Not because they were black but because they were good lads who could play.”

In the modern era, with the lack of black managers viewed as a pressing issue in the fight for equality in British football, Atkinson believes the game is a meritocracy and opportunities are out there.

“I’ve always thought it’s ability that gets you anywhere,” he said. “Those black lads [at West Brom] didn’t get in because they were black.

“They got in because they were good enough. There’s a lot of talk about managers, there’s not enough English managers, let alone black managers.

“You know, there’s been any number of black managers, people forget.

“[Brighton manager] Chris Hughton keeps getting jobs. He does a good job wherever he goes.

“Funnily enough, I mentioned [former Fulham boss Jean] Tigana earlier, he was a good manager.

“It’s just dawned on me that Tigana was black. I never thought of that; I thought of him as a manager.”


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