What We’ve Learned From the Cardiff, Crystal Palace and LMA Fiasco

As evident in the recent revelations of text messages between former Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay and former sporting director of Crystal Palace (also former Head of Player recruitment of Cardiff) Iain Moody, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia are all still very much alive in British football. In these alleged text messages and emails exchanged back when Mackay and Moody were both employed by Cardiff, the duo made slurs against Asians, homosexuals, women, and other non-white races.  With the messages surfacing (as well as new reports tonight that Mackay allegedly called Tan a racial slur), Mackay is no longer in consideration for the vacant Crystal Palace managerial position, and Moody has recently tendered his resignation as Palace’s sporting director.

Perhaps equally as disturbing to the messages was the League Managers Association’s initial response to these allegations.  The LMA, a union for team managers in the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, and the England national team, stated that the exchanged messages “were two text messages sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure and when he was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter.”

The phrases “letting off steam” and “friendly banter” couldn’t have been used more inappropriately by the LMA.  To excuse verbalized expressions of racism, sexism, and homophobia as just “friendly banter” was an extremely reckless decision by the LMA.  The LMA later apologized for their statement and have since condemned the Mackay and Moody messages, but the damage has been done.

News of the messages came to light due to an investigation with help from Cardiff and their owner Vincent Tan.  Tan has appeared to exact revenge on his former employees Mackay and Moody because he felt the two were spending his money improperly (among other things).  The Malaysian billionaire was unhappy with Mackay and Moody’s decisions to spend over $50 million on eight players (Andreas Cornelius, John Brayford, Simon Moore, Steven Caulker, Gary Medel, Maxi Amondarain, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, and Peter Odemwingie) in the summer of 2013.  Of the eight incoming players, only two (Caulker and Medel) have made a substantial impact on the team.  Only three of the eight summer of 2013 transfers are still with Cardiff a year later.

While Tan is upset with Mackay for the aforementioned transfers, there are not too many team owners who would give their manager enough power to have free rein on club transfers.  It is widely understood that most club owners can have the final say on transfer decisions (after all, they do own the team and employ the manager.

Nevertheless, the awkward and unusual story does not end here.  Crystal Palace have recently been fined by the Premier League for what they call a violation of rule B. 16.  The rule states, “Every club shall behave towards each other club and the League with the utmost good faith.”

The allegations are that Cardiff’s starting lineup was leaked to Crystal Palace prior to the London-based club thrashing the Wales-based club 3-0 back in April.  It was suspected that Moody used his contacts at Cardiff to obtain Cardiff’s lineup, and then relayed the information to Palace’s manager at the time, Tony Pulis.  Pulis and Moody both rejected these claims; however, the fine was handed out to Palace.  Whether previous knowledge of an opponent’s starting lineup would affect the outcome of a match is debatable.

Although there have been recent positive breakthroughs in sports involving openly gay athletes actively participating in professional sports (the NBA’s Jason Collins and NFL’s Michael Sam), and women being hired as coaches in male sports (Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs and Corinne Diacre of Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot), there is still a long way to go in changing the sports culture for the better.  The animosity involved in the machismo world of sports won’t end today, but human beings are not born anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, or xenophobic.  The process of ending hate, not only in the sports realm, but around the world will take time.

Sadly, what we’ve learned is that the institution of soccer in Britain is still living in the dark ages, as evidenced by a column written by The Secret Footballer, where he revealed the following: “I reckon that if you took all the phones of everybody involved in football, 90% of them would contain emails or text messages displaying homophobia, sexism, racism and everything in between.”


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