14th June 2019, 17:10
ANDREW CHALMERS COLUMN
READ Andrew Chalmers' latest column - in partnership with Bradford's Telegraph and Argus.
We must never tolerate any form of discrimination – in sport or society
The remarkable events of last week involving David Argyle, former Chairman of the Toronto Wolfpack served to highlight that there must be zero tolerance to any form of discrimination in society let alone sport. Whilst the RFL undertakes its own investigation, certainly Argyle’s decision to red-card himself in the mean-time seems to have partially taken the heat out from underneath the RFL’s inquiry.
Argyle has apologised admitting he was wrong, which must be applauded, and he has also reiterated he intends to honour his obligations and commitments. Perhaps the RFL board may be considering a hefty fine, and even a points deduction – certainly the drum is beating. These events could even cast a shadow over the Wolfpack’s ongoing ownership.
In 2014, the NBA forced controversial owner Donald Sterling to relinquish ownership of the LA Clippers following an investigation which found Sterling had made racist statements. A hefty sanction which included a lifetime ban and the maximum fine allowable of $2.5 million USD at the time was also levelled. Ultimately Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer was the successful purchaser of the LA Clippers for a cool $2 Billion USD beating off a celebrity of who’s who bidders which included Eric Piatkowski, Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather, and Magic Johnson.
The campaign to eliminate racism, discrimination and intolerance from European soccer has become a major priority for UEFA in recent years with a clear and unequivocal message: No to Racism. UEFA has forged a close partnership with the FARE network, which comprises groups and bodies working against intolerance and discrimination across Europe.
UEFA has also given considerable financial support towards staging events, issuing publications, and pressing home a message of zero tolerance for any form of racism and discrimination, in favour of more respect for diversity.
The “No to Racism” message aims to increase public awareness of intolerance and discrimination in football, as well as developing ideas and strategies on how to fight them. Such strategies have included the team captains wearing No to Racism armbands, and anti-racism messages being played over the clubs' public address systems, along with video testimonials from players backing the campaign.
Whatever the RFL decide, the sanction must fit whatever breach has been determined to have occurred but zero tolerance towards discrimination must mean exactly that. It’s critically important to ensure club owners, staff, players and fans alike understand that such comments, regardless of the context and circumstances, have no place in our sport or in society, and together we must be vigilant in stamping it out.
Leigh Centurions out for revenge
There is no question that the Derek Beaumont owned Leigh Centurions will be looking to avenge their Round eight 26-12 loss to the Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium in March. The Bulls will make the trek across to Leigh Sports Village to tackle the red hot Centurions on Sunday afternoon. The Centurions sit above us on the table, however it’s an extremely tight contest between third and seventh place on the Championship ladder with Featherstone, Leigh and York all on twenty points and Sheffield and Bradford both on eighteen points on a very congested table.
Certainly the Wolfpack and Toulouse have developed a break on the chasing pack, but all these clubs will be fighting tooth and nail, to get the bye and home ground advantage as we all edge closer to the home straight, in what will undoubtedly be a photo finish. As I’ve said in recent weeks, the Bulls will throw everything at the opposition teams in our quest to make the play-offs.
A hectic schedule seems to gain some sense as we tackle the last 11 rounds of the regular season, committed to only one game a week. Certainly our team has weathered a torrid three months with a heavy schedule and injuries, but some very bright lights are appearing on the horizon. The return of Joe Keyes in the reserves emphatic win over Keighley reserves during the week is a major step forward in his return to first team rugby league. Plenty of try assists along with Joe’s pin point kicks has given the whole club a huge boost.
Also getting closer to a return to play are Rhys Evans and Jy Hitchcox. Speaking to our football staff, we expect to see both in action in the next few weeks, which is a welcome relief. Our outside back ranks have been considerably thin, combined with the loss of Joe Brown for four weeks on debut for the club, and Rowan Milnes out for another six weeks with a broken leg. Add to that James Green, Steve Crossley, Connor Farrell, and Colton Roche all in the casualty ward, it certainly means our medical team are working around the clock to get players back on the pitch.
There are certainly plenty of opportunities for players in the Bull’s ranks who have waited for their chance to challenge for a position. John Kear is looking closely at the abundance of talent in the reserves and academy teams as we look to cover positions. This is the real benefit of having made a significant investment in our academy setup.
Sunday will be a typical close, tough challenge. We know Leigh are still smarting over losing our last encounter. Having won 5 of their last 6 Championship encounters they will attack Sundays match full of belief. We expect them to have a large vocal home crowd and be throwing everything at the Bulls, this will be as tight a game as you would expect and we desperately need the win. They need it to create a cushion between the chasing teams. A typical four pointer on offer.
Please get along to show your support and cheer your Bulls team at the Leigh Sports Village. Check out the Away Guide online or in the T&A, as you prepare for your weekend footie fix. Kick off is Sunday, 3pm. Tickets available in the Club shop or online at www.bradfordbulls.co.uk/tickets #COYB #BullsNation #BrotherhoodOfBulls