Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan has been banned 6 weeks, fined £50,000 and ordered to complete an education course by the FA for his comments on Jewish and Chinese people.
Wherever where Whelan is right now, I am imagine he has a smile wider than the Grand Canyon after the FA have once again failed to adequately punish an individual for wrongdoing.
Whelan's comments on Jewish and Chinese people were revealed in an interview with The Guardian's David Conn after Whelan had controversially appointed Malky Mackay as Wigan manager. Conn and Whelan were discussing Mackay's conduct when he was in charge of Cardiff City; Mackay and then colleague Iain Moody had sent a series of racist and sexist texts regarding Cardiff City personnel, as well as football agents. It was Whelan's response that prompted the today's FA charge.
Speaking to The Guardian, Whelan was asked how he felt about Mackay reference to football agent Phil Smith: "Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers."
Whelan retorted he did not find Mackay's reference to Smith offensive. In fact, Whelan himself defended Mackay saying his statement was a reflection Jewish people "love money" like everyone else. When pushed to explain himself further after it was revealed to him the negative stereotyping of Jews loving money had been a source of grievance for the Jewish community, Whelan responded: "Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people. I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don't think that's offensive at all."
He was also not offended by Mackay's comments on South Korean international Kim Bo-kyung: "enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go around." When asked if he found the term "chink offensive", he stated that he didn't and that he had used the term around Chinese people when he was young: "If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying,” Whelan said. “There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies.”
Mackay's comments were highly racial in nature and were sent in a series of messages that were meant to ridicule and lamblast people of other cultures, creeds and races behind their backs. For Whelan to overlook and even condone the serious nature of Mackay's comments puts serious question marks on his own character.
As owner of a football club, Whelan is in a high position of authority in regards to employment and as such, a high degree of accountability must be thrust onto his and every other football owner's shoulder in regards to phasing out discrimination and exploitation in football. Whelan's actions puts his credibility and also the work of campaigns such as 'Kick It Out' into disrepute. As a result, Whelan should have had the book thrown at him; instead, he walks off with a slap on the wrist.
For starters, the 6 week ban is absolutely nonsensical and doomed to fail. How will it be implemented? Will someone from the FA shadow him? Will Whelan have his phone patterns monitored to see if he rejects a Wigan Athletic related phone call? Will he be under house arrest?! If Wigan sign a player in the January transfer window, who will sanction the payment? And what the bleeding heck are they going to teach him during the education programme on race that 78 years of life couldn't?!
As Whelan stated he believed some of his wording was taking out of context, I can appreciate the difficulty in finding an appropriate punishment but judging from how flimsy the ban is, the FA should not have bothered at all. Nonetheless, when the NBA forced two owners (Donald Sterling and Bruce Levenson to sell their teams (LA Clippers and Atlanta Falcons) this year as they were found guilty of racist remarks, the FA have shown cowardice in their weak punishment.
If the FA felt forcing Whelan to leave was unwarranted, the only other suitable fine was a hefty fine in the millions bracket. Racism and any other forms of discrimination are against the heart of the beautiful game; excluding personnel who fall foul of this or having a large deterrent is the only way to keep the beautiful game, beautiful. The FA have let football down today, particularly anyone in the game who feels underrepresented and marginalised.