Posted by sean on March 9, 2020 at 8:43 pm in Leeds United with No Comments


I have been putting off blogging about this subject for a while, as it’s not very nice.

A few weeks ago, I posted how the Leeds United goalkeeper, Kiko Casilla, had been accused of racism, pending an investigation.

The outcome of this investigation, carried out by the Football Association, found Casilla guilty of racially abusing Charlton Athletic forward Jonathan Leko.

As Casilla has denied the charge, the verdict was made on the basis of probability, once all the evidence and witness statements had been taken into account.

I have provided links to ‘further reading’ at the end of this post, but the crime Casilla was found guilty of, was calling Leko a “fucking n***er”. Even typing that word with asterisk symbols makes me feel uncomfortable.

Casilla has been banned for eight games, fined £60,000 and forced to attend racial education sessions.

The verdict was announced just over a week ago. Given the serious nature of the charge, my hatred of anything racist, yet love for Leeds United, I wanted the time to form a firm, fair opinion on the matter, before I took to the keyboard.

So, here are my thoughts on the extremely unpleasant situation…

  • There remains a section of Leeds fans, who refuse to accept that Casilla is guilty. People are entitled to their opinions, but I would hope that to make such a judgement, they have studied all the evidence and ensure that their loyalty to Leeds United and the players is not clouding their judgement.
  • Leeds fans have rightly criticised other clubs this season, for their crimes and controversial behaviour. Most notably, Derby County, over the drink driving fiasco. Those supporters must accept that there will now be many people, justifiably condemning Casilla
  • If a black Leeds player was found to have been racially abused by a white member of the opposition, all supporters would naturally (and rightly), jump to their own player’s defence and condemn the individual shown to be guilty. The fact Leko played for Charlton at the time of the incident, should be irrelevant. Racism is racism, regardless of who the abuse is made by and who it is directed towards.
  • Leeds fans who defend Casilla need to remember – it doesn’t make you any less of a supporter to condemn Casilla’s actions. Being openly critical of one of your own players, found guilty of racism, is not the same as moaning about an underfire striker who is unable to score goals.
  • Remarkably Casilla claims to have not heard of the N-word at the time of the incident. If that was the case, why use a word he didn’t know. Secondly, if he didn’t know the meaning of the word, who subsequently taught it to him?
  • Casilla is 33-years-old. Despite speaking Spanish, I cannot believe that he hadn’t heard of the word until recently. Regardless of which language you speak, the horrible word can often be found in music and movies.
  • Is the 8 match ban long enough? It is certainly not consistent with other punishments. Former-Liverpool striker, Daniel Sturridge, was recently suspended from football for four months. This was because his family gambled on which club he would sign for next. Sturridge didn’t even place the bet! Despite being guilty, I cannot see how Sturridge’s crime warrants a longer ban than that of one for abhorrent racism.
  • While I am not defending Casilla, he was fined £60,000 for his use of racist language. Last season, Millwall were fined just £10,000 when sections of their crowd were found guilty of directing racist abuse to black opposition players. In my opinion, Millwall should have been fined a lot more and possibly been forced to play a number of games behind closed doors.
  • The FA, who found Casilla guilty, are far from blameless themselves. It took them five months to come to an outcome. That is far too long and is unfair on all involved, most notably Leko. If any black players are racially abused in the future, will they choose to report incidents, if they think that they’ll be as long and drawn out as this one?
  • I am not happy with the way in which Leeds United, as a club, have behaved. Since the verdict, they have defended Casilla. How is it possible to defend the indefensible? I remember when Liverpool players embarras⁰
  • singly defended their then team mate, Luis Suarez, for using racist language towards Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra. Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher, who was part of the team who defended Suarez, has since apologised to Evra. It’s all very sad and disappointing. I hope that Leeds United retract their defence of Casilla very soon.
  • In-house disciplinary action needs to be taken against Casilla. It may have occurred already and Leeds have decided to not reveal what has taken place. That is understandable and while I don’t expect the club to announce the nature of the punishment, it would be wise to make it clear that they have taken the matter seriously and the incident was unacceptable.
  • Generally, I believe people deserve a second chance. There is no evidence to prove that Casilla is a racist, despite him using such disgusting language and behaving appallingly. He needs to apologise for his actions – something he is yet to do. Until then, I don’t feel that I am able to respect him.
  • There are arguments for and against Casilla getting sacked. I don’t want to start a campaign to see anyone lose their job, but will say this – if somebody was to walk into my office at work and I called them a “fucking n***er”, I would be handed my P45. I would imagine employees in most lines of work would too. Why is football any different? A few years ago, John Terry called Anton Ferdinand a “black cunt”. Was one of the reasons that he kept his job because he was one of Chelsea’s best players and worth tens of millions. A little depressing if it was.
  • Maybe it would be better for all involved if Casilla was sold. After his ban, there should only be three games left, unless Leeds fall into the playoffs. Divides within football clubs, even among fans, are never healthy. While there will be some supporters who will forever defend him, there will so be many like me, who will never be able to look at him in the same way again.
  • Finally, I feel so sorry for Jonathan Leko. Not only was the racist abuse he received unacceptable, but the entire investigation must have been deeply upsetting and not something that anyone should have to go through.

 

Further material 

Considering the serious and sensitive nature of today’s post, I have included links to various webpages and a podcast on the issue.

Reading the material in full and listening to the informative podcast, has allowed me to form what I feel to be a fair opinion.

If you feel strongly about the incident, I suggest you do the same.

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