Watching the England versus Wales soccer match this afternoon — one supporter each in this household — and watching spectators closely whenever they were in focus, it suddenly occurred to me that there were no Caribbean-English among them. There were several blacks in the two sides, and even one Muslim in the Welsh side with a long black beard — though not as long as the Muslim’s in the English cricket team! — but not a single one among the crowd that I could see.
Why is there such a difference? The answer has to do with the fact that if an individual black ever goes to a soccer match the chances are quite high that he’ll be physically assaulted before or after the match. If a group turns up for self-protection then you can be reasonably certain that a group of whites will soon collect and attack them.
What amounts to a ‘Law of Ethnicity’ applies here. Multiracialism is acceptable when, by force of circumstances, different ethnics happen to be conjoined into one group. Groups of upper middle- and middle-class people do this quite often — barristers, doctors, accountants, scientists, etc. accept individual foreignerseadily. One other proviso is that the group should not have more than about a dozen members. Above that and dissension will inevitably occur. This social limitation is something we’ve inherited from millions of years in our past .
This ‘Law of Ethnicity’ even applies to soccer league teams. They’re chosen by the manager. Whether or not he is middle-class — most are not — he is necessarily looking over his shoulder to the owner of the club who may have to pay out a large sum of money. Most owners are rich people and automatically much higher in the pecking order than a club’s supporters. But foreigners are welcome in a team — and as many as you like of them — if they’re skilful enough and are a bonus to help the team to its main purpose, winning matches.
Soccer has suffered a lot from race hatred in past years and, indeed, still does so from time to time Nasty taunting amounting to race hatred still breaks out among spectators in English football matches. But not among the players themselves. If foreign-born soccer player helps them to win matches then that’s fine.
Politicians and civil servants, when they frame race legislation and try to regulate without regard to the social situation in which incidents occur. This is why, for example, white police officers are sent on patrol into black districts and why, try as they might at Home Office and senior police level for many years past to recruit black policemen in proportion to their population — 3% — they still haven’t succeeded. As soon as an individual Caribbean or Indian or Pakistani joins then prejudice works against him from then onwards.
[P.S. When I started this posting Wales were winning 1-0. Just before I finished England won the game 2-1. Incidentally, some politicians have proposed from time to time that we become a British football team.. Not a chance! Culture is still older and stronger than the relatively recent innovation of nation-state governance — only about 200 years old — and we remain four teams — England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.]