EPL

Rise in incidents of racism concerns Kick It Out

By Sports Desk December 08, 2019

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari fears the issue of racism "is definitely getting worse" in Britain following an incident at Saturday's Manchester derby, which has led to an arrest.

On Sunday, Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 41-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody over an incident at the Etihad Stadium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed two of his Manchester United players were targeted in their 2-1 win over City, when television footage appeared to show a supporter making a racist gesture in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

The incident came almost a year to the day since City striker Raheem Sterling was subjected to "racially abusive language" by a Chelsea supporter, who was later banned for life.

A League Two game between Forest Green Rovers and Scunthorpe United was also temporarily halted on Saturday following a report of alleged racist abuse, and Bhandari is concerned by the growing number of incidents across the game in Britain.

"I think the problem is definitely getting worse here and it has been over the last three years," he told Sky Sports News.

"We're nowhere near where we were 30, 40 years ago but there's definitely been an upward spike over the last two, three years.

"But by the same token it doesn't help us if we create these false oppositions; we're not [like] Bulgaria."

In October, UEFA ordered Bulgaria to play a competitive home game behind closed doors after their Euro 2020 qualifier against England was halted twice due to racist chanting from the stands.

"We should not be complacent, we should focus on what's happening in our own country," Bhandari added.

"There has definitely been a rise over the last two or three years and we need to get a handle on that and collaborate much more effectively across football to really try and stamp this out."

City promised any individual found guilty of making racial gestures would be banned for life.

The Premier League also issued its own statement on Sunday saying it would support any action taken by their 20 clubs.

"The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form," the statement read.

"If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.

"We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable."

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    Real Madrid lifted the lid on the worst-kept secret in world football on Monday when they confirmed the signing of Flamengo talent Reinier Jesus for a reported €30million.

    In completing the long-reported deal, Los Blancos bolstered an already impressive collection of young players on their books, with the club's future planning seemingly second to none in world football.

    In Eder Militao, Federico Valverde, Luka Jovic, Brahim Diaz, Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior, Takefusa Kubo, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon, Martin Odegaard and now Reinier, Madrid boast a remarkable amount of under-23 talent.

    Reinier completed his switch the day after his 18th birthday and, while his price tag appears hefty, it actually led to friction within Flamengo – coach Jorge Jesus accusing the club of not being able to value their players, a comment vice-president Marcos Braz subsequently shut down.

    Although a regular in transfer gossip columns of late, Reinier remains something of an unknown quantity and a complete rookie given he has played just 15 matches of senior football.

    We asked Andy Walker, a Brazilian football analyst and expert for Football Radar, for the lowdown on the latest Brazilian 'wonderkid' to secure a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

     

    What's Reinier's favoured role?

    "Reinier is at his best in a No.10 role, but he does like to play slightly more advanced than a traditional '10', staying close to the striker as much as possible," Andy surmised.

    It is an area in which Madrid are by no means short, but Reinier also boasts the flexibility to fill in right across the frontline. "He has actually been used as a striker at times by Flamengo as a result," Andy added.

     

    What are his greatest attributes?

    A Brazilian attacker coveted by Real Madrid – you might be able to guess at a few of his strongest traits, though Andy has also been impressed by Reinier's poise when it matters.

    "A quick, direct dribbler who can glide past his man with ease, as well as possessing deceptively good close control and technique," Andy said. "He's also got a real eye for goal, with six goals in 729 minutes of senior football, with his composure really impressive given his very young age."

     

    In which areas does he need to improve?

    While he is certainly costly, it should not be forgotten Reinier has only just turned 18 and is by no means the finished article. Our expert has reservations over the Flamengo product's physicality and athleticism at the moment.

    He said: "He needs to progress physically as we have seen him struggle to keep up the pace in the latter stages when playing a full 90 minutes, but that should all come as he learns the game and adapts to a more rigorous training regime in Europe. As with any young Brazilian, he will need a lot of growth on the tactical side of the game, but his six months under Jorge Jesus will prove a real benefit, rather than playing under some of the archaic Brazilian coaches."

     

    Which player could he be comparable to?

    Every talented young player from Brazil or Argentina gets labelled as the heir apparent to a previous superstar, and it seems Reinier is no different having drawn comparisons to a former Madrid player.

    "The easy comparison to make is with Kaka – or specifically the Milan-era Kaka," Andy suggested, and he is not the only one to make that link. Guilherme Dalla Dea, Reinier's former Brazil Under-17 coach, said similar last year.

    "I see him as a '10' – a Rai, a Kaka," he told FIFA. "I see these characteristics in Reiner. He likes getting in the box, scoring goals. He also scores goals from outside the box. I've so much belief in him. He's a kid, a youngster, but he's very level-headed and because of this he's our captain. I firmly believe we'll see him playing at a very high level overseas."

     

    How does his potential stack up compared to Rodrygo and Vinicius?

    There is no doubt Madrid are backing their own track record of turning raw young talents into the world's best, such has been their investment in under-23 players over the past few years. And the consensus is, Reinier's potential is vast.

    "It's difficult to say given Rodrygo and Vinicius were given more time to show their talents in Brazil before moving, but Reinier's talent has been obvious since his very first game and I think the general feeling is that, if all goes well, then he could end up being the best of the lot," Andy observed.

     

    Have there been any concerns relating to his mentality?

    Talent can only take you so far. As a teenager moving to a new continent, Reinier will surely face mental challenges and those will likely determine whether or not he achieves success – but in terms of professionalism, he is seemingly well set.

    "Reinier's team-mates and coaches have all been very positive about his attitude and willingness to learn, so he looks well-placed to make the most of his talents," Andy commented.

    Similarly, his coach Jorge Jesus has no worries about that side of the 18-year-old, telling Marca: "I believe a lot in Reinier. I had several talks with him and we talked a lot from the point of view of how he can get better, about his defects, what needs to be corrected. Reinier is a very intelligent kid, he likes to learn and I can say he is a gifted one. I assure you, he is going to mature there. He will arrive in Madrid safe and quiet to do a job, but it is necessary to give him some time."

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    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes a 400 or 500-day year would be required for Champions League expansion because Premier League clubs already play too many games.

    The European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA are said to be in talks about adding another four matchdays to the Champions League schedule, which would result in finalists playing 17 games.

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    "I think the solution is you have to make a year of 400 days, that is a solution, 400 or 500, more or less. After that we can book another competition. Maybe UEFA or FIFA can talk about it. We have few days a year, that's the problem," said Guardiola.

    Champions League expansion would likely have negative ramifications for the EFL Cup.

    After stating the EFL Cup "wouldn't be interesting" if Premier League sides withdrew in order to lighten their loads, the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona offered a more ruthless alternative.

    "Eliminate competitions. Take them out completely - so less games," he said.

    "Less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. The people are going enjoy it. The people are going to go to the theatre, to the cinema, restaurants, to watch the fireworks. That is what they would do."

    At the crux of Guardiola's argument is a desire to reduce the physical workload on players.

    He said: "There are less games [in Germany in Spain], much less than here. In the Bundesliga there are 18 teams not 20, one cup not two. They have a break, in Spain they have a break.Tthe cup is run with one game, not two. So it's a big difference.

    "It's just to protect the players … For them they'd enjoy it more, the people too. People say they can't live without football, they can live without football for a while. It's too much, honestly."

    The City boss suggested serious injuries sustained by Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford since the turn of the year were a result of the excessive demands.

    Kane's hamstring problem and Rashford's back issue were a blow to Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2020, but Guardiola feels those in charge of the game in England cannot be surprised.

    "It's a big blow for Gareth, for the national team. Kane and Rashford are incredibly important players for them. Hopefully there isn't another one who does that and they can recover," he said.

    "It's an incredible amount of games. Now we're talking about it because they are [injured], but looking back at the injuries Newcastle have had, we have had, all the teams. That is normal. With that number of games, sooner or later the players break down.

    "I'm not really surprised. I’m so sorry for them, but with this amount of games it happens. The big administration people cannot complain because it's normal this happens.

    "Of course it is [too much to expect]. They arrive in the Euros, playing with the national teams trying their best, then [back here] after no more than 20 days because the business, the show, must go on. It's unsustainable.

    "Sooner or later the players fall down. It's too much. I'm so sorry for Kane and Rashford because they are incredible and good for the league, but we demand a lot from the players, it's too much.

    "They should reflect [on] it but all the managers complained about it and they don't care. Now Boxing Day is over, another season, and prepare for the next one. A distance of two or three days again and again.

    "The players in the end suffer. They want to do well and the clubs have a lot of pressure to win titles or qualify for the Champions League, the players want to do well. We push them and we are being pushed.

    "At some moment the body says stop, it's enough."

  • Aston Villa sign Samatta to help fill striker void Aston Villa sign Samatta to help fill striker void

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