Chris Errington: We can all play a part in tackling racism problem
WHAT can be done to rid English football, once and for all, of the scourge of racism?
Steps have been taken over recent times which have 'improved' the situation, but it has not been enough.
Last week, former England captain John Terry apologised for making racist comments during a game.
The damage that has been done to the game in the country, as well as other recent high-profile cases, cannot be underestimated. It sets a terrible example, especially to children.
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But the problem does not only exist on the pitch.
Off it, I would guess many fans that travel across England to watch games will have witnessed racist abuse being hurled at players.
There is less of it than there was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it is still there. Lurking.
This is also not solely about black footballers being targeted, but players of all skin colours and backgrounds.
Racism is a problem in society and football cannot solve that on its own.
But football, as the national sport in this country, can play a significant part in stamping it out.
As fans, we can all make a contribution to doing that.
If we hear anyone shouting racist comments at a game, even if they are 'supporting' our team, we should inform the nearest steward immediately.
It is easy to leave it to someone else for fear of being identified as the informer.
But if we all take that attitude, the problem will not be eradicated and we will all continue to be stained by it.
Fans united can be a powerful force, as we saw during Argyle's time in administration in 2011.
Also, players have their own responsibility to each other. Yes, emotions spill over at times during games, and stamping out swearing, for example, is totally unrealistic.
There is no reason why racist comments cannot be stopped, though.
The football authorities, both in this country and across the world, need to take the firmest of action against offenders.
Imposing six-figure sum fines against exceedingly well paid Premier League players is no deterrent.
What will hit them hard, and their clubs, are lengthy – and I mean lengthy – suspensions. Why not for months, or even the rest of a season, rather than weeks, for example?
Perhaps then the message will be understood that it is not acceptable behaviour.
Argyle players showed their support for the Kick It Out campaign's week of action against racism in football by wearing special T-shirts before the game against Rochdale at Home Park on Saturday.
It would be nice to think that in the not too distant future such events will not be needed.