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Voice35Years: Is sport any less racist that it was?

MOUTHING OFF: Geoffrey Boycott (left) and Mark Sampson have recently been pulled-up on their racist comments

'THE VOICE' celebrates 35 years of publishing this Bank Holiday weekend and recent headlines suggest that Britain’s leading black publication remains hugely relevant.

In the last week alone former England cricketer Geoff Boycott said that he would need to ‘blacken up’ in order to gain a knighthood. Boycott also suggested that the honour was being handed out "like confetti.”

No Geoffrey! The likes of West Indies legends Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose - who Boycott was referring to - earned their gongs for their Herculean efforts on the field and philanthropic work off it.

Boycott has subsequently apologised but his original comments were disrespectful to say the least.

Former England all-rounder Ian Botham has a knighthood, any problems there Geoffrey? Wouldn't think so.

COMMENTS: Eni Aluko was the subject of offensive, racist remarks

Eni Aluko has also been in the headlines of late. Aluko has won over 100 caps for the England Women’s football team but has herself been subject to racist comments. On this occasion England Women’s manager Mark Sampson has found himself in the dock for alleged comments that undermined Nigeria-born Aluko. The manager is accused of telling Aluko, with her family on the verge of visiting Wembley, do not bring the Ebola virus to the national stadium.

Boycott and Sampson’s comments may be seen by some as banter. However, they were not received that way by those at the sharp end of their tongues. My view is that banter can only be carried out by parties that know each well enough to go down certain roads.

What is clear from both incidents is that judgements continue to be made about individuals based on their race and/or skin colour. Some of those judgements are way off the mark and only promote a fractious society.This year has been tough enough on many fronts without comments that are well off the mark.

What compounds the situation is the profile and status of Boycott and Sampson. They should know better.

Racist comments leave the victims in dismay while the perpetrators do themselves or society no good.

The Voice started publishing in 1982 to give the collective community a vehicle that would drive them forward. It is quite clear that the vehicle needs to keep moving.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the following hash tag: #Voice35Years

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