By GRAHAME ANDERSON
The whole of football has been accused of having double standards over their approach to recognising victims of the New Zealand mosque attack.
Criticism mounted after periods of silence were held before both rugby union Six Nations and rugby league matches last weekend, but not prior to FA Cup, Football League or Premier League games. It prompted a fierce reaction from UK Muslims and in particular, former FA Race Equality Board Chair Yunus Lunat. The employment law solicitor who hales from Kirklees and works in Leeds, also aimed a cry of hypocrisy at FA administrators, despite their decision to hold a minutes silence before England’s Euro qualifier against the Czech Republic at Wembley this Friday.
Shame on you @FA@Premier League @EFL
No minutes silence to mark Christchurch massacre
#More to football
Went out all for Paris/Charlie Hebdo
In a later BBC Radio Five Live interview he said: “It is double standards and hypocrisy. To hold a minute’s silence was the right thing to do. When it happens for the events, it has to happen across the board for every attack.”
Back in 2013 Yunus became the first Muslim in the FA’s 150 year history to take a seat on the full FA Council. Proud of his Kirklees connection Yunus is an experienced tribunal advocate, and has Higher Rights of Audience as a Solicitor. He also advises Liverpool FC on equality and diversity as a member of the club’s official Supporters’ Committee. He has a wealth of experience in all the major aspects of employment law.
When Asian Sunday caught up with the FA’s former diversity advisor he told us: “It’s not fair to throw the blame solely at our own Football Association. In fairness they’ve come out and will now hold a silence even though a wonderful opportunity was missed at the weekend. Both the Premier and EFL have remained silent along with the Professional Footballers Association. PFA members would have been more than happy to pay their respects.
“We always talk about ‘the football family’, and when any terrorist tragedy happens everyone should show solidarity in their respect for the victims. After all, New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth with the Queen at its head.
“There is a lack of Muslims in leadership roles in sport, particularly football, despite those applying being competent enough for roles. There are a lack of ethnic executives who can identify with this sort of thing.
“The FA Cup is the FA’s competition. It shows a lack of leadership and it is a cop out. It’s all about inclusivity regardless of background, and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
In the past few days tributes have been made across the world to the tragic events in Christchurch resulting in the killing of 50 innocent people – 48 were also injured in the horrific shootings last week. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has since been charged with murder.
In response the Premier League pointed to a tweet made last Friday stating their “thoughts were with those affected by the terrible events” when asked for comment by the BBC. The FA explained: “Regarding those matches in the FA Cup, the onus was on clubs to hold a silence, adding: “We would support them if they did.”
In an official statement they added: “We will pay tribute to the victims of the tragedy in New Zealand at the England v Czech Republic match on Friday 22 March. We will remember everyone affected by the terrible events in Christchurch.”
Following the 2015 Paris attacks Premier League clubs wore black armbands and played the French national anthem. When 86 people were killed in July 2016 after a lorry drove into a crowd on Bastille Day, Wembley’s arch was lit in the Tricolour to show solidarity with the victims.
The following words will be flashed on screen at Wembley Stadium prior to kick off on Friday evening.
“Please join us in a moment’s silence for all who have died or been injured and all affected by the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.”