I DON’T think I’d ever heard of John Yems before this week and, frankly, I hope I never hear his name again.
I’ve never met the former Crawley Town manager and hope I never do.
I don’t mean that in a threatening way, I just don’t think I could deal with being in the company of someone so stupid and ignorant.
He was found to have referred to some of Crawley’s black and Asian players as “curry munchers”, “terrorists” and “Zulu warriors”, along with other slurs.
I’m in a WhatsApp group with several prominent current and former black footballers — including some of the biggest names in the game — and I’ve rarely heard such genuine fury from them than the response to the Yems case.
Because while an FA commission banned Yems, they limited his punishment, stating that he is not a “conscious racist”.
That was a profoundly embarrassing and worrying thing for the FA’s independent commission to state.
There is a lot of genuine anger about it, believe me.
If those insults do not constitute conscious racism, I honestly don’t know what does.
Does someone have to dress up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit to be deemed a “conscious racist” because that is how it feels to me and a lot of black players.
Put it another way, how many conscious racists do you know — people who’ll say, “Yes, I’m a racist”? Very few.
When someone starts a sentence with, “I’m not being racist but . . . ” you know what’s coming next.
Or, “How can I be racist when I’ve got black friends?” That’s always a good one.
Yems then went on talkSPORT on Thursday and was interviewed by Jim White.
He sounded unrepentant, even claiming HE should be receiving apologies.
When I heard that interview, my initial thought was that the station shouldn’t have given him the platform — although if I was still working for talkSPORT, I know I’d have wanted to grill Yems and challenge his views.
Yes, Yems will have received criticism.
But a lot of people will have been happy and proud to hear Yems spouting his nonsense because they will feel it has added justification to their own offensive views.
If you are going to have Yems on the radio, trying to make himself sound like some kind of victim, then we really should hear from the actual victims.
Some of these players who were bullied by Yems say their careers have been wrecked by him.
We cannot imagine the toll this sort of behaviour might have taken on their mental health.
People in football make the right noises about racism but this Yems verdict makes me feel everything is going backwards.
The England team and the manager Gareth Southgate, have been very strong on taking the knee as an anti-discrimination message at the start of matches — even despite opposition from some Three Lions supporters.
But then something like this happens, under the auspices of the FA, and there is horror and disbelief among black players.
We still feel we are at the bottom rung when it comes to tackling discrimination.
There has been another recent racism controversy, surrounding the 19-year-old Leeds winger Willy Gnonto and a song from his club’s fans which includes the line, “his c**k’s f***ing massive”.
There have been similar chants about black players before.
Leeds and their manager, Jesse Marsch, have been outspoken in trying to educate people that the line is based on an offensive racist stereotype and have asked supporters to adapt or scrap the song.
But when Gnonto scored a wonder goal against Cardiff in their FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday, the song was sung again.
I find the levels of stupidity unbelievable — the idea that 40,000 people can get together, in 2023 and decide that singing a song like that is a good idea.
Talking of stupidity, the incident where Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale was kicked by a Tottenham fan after Sunday’s North London derby was also troubling.
Especially the idea that Ramsdale somehow provoked the incident by kissing his badge after the final whistle.
Ramsdale had been taking stick, so he gave a little back.
We don’t want players to have to act as robots.
We should be able to show a little passion but now it feels that, by doing so, we’re risking our safety.
I hope the Spurs fan is given a punishment which affects his everyday life, such as a football banning order.
It seems part of a growing culture of supporters feeling they are entitled to invade the playing area — a fan ran on during Wednesday’s Crystal Palace v Manchester United match and took a selfie with Red Devils midfielder Casemiro.
Again, it’s that worrying sense of entitlement — and stupidity.
It’s been one of those weeks where you despair for football and wider society.
The only positive thing I’ve heard is that when my Birmingham side play Preston today, referee Rebecca Welch will become the first woman to take charge of a Championship fixture.
That’s one step in the right direction in terms of equality.
But the Yems case shows that, in other areas, we still have a hell of a long way to go.