After the Chelsea game in the post match presser with Joe Mourinho, the club’s Communications Officer Simon Felstein felt he was being “called out” by a journalist in the Tottenham media room. The suggestion being that the wrong protocols had been followed by referee Anthony Taylor, after Antonio Rudiger’s allegations of offensive barracking.
It turns out Mr Felstein probably owes the journalist an apology.
Despite this being a Premier League game, what Taylor had in fact done, was initiate the first step of the FIFA and UEFA anti-racism protocol procedures according to The New York Times.
The Premier League uses its own a six-step reaction plan, which is more focused upon ensuring the game isn’t unduly interrupted. Crucially, the Premier League protocols do not include the use of the in-stadia warnings.
The announcement “Racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game” was made 3 times, leading the 61,000+ fans inside the stadium and millions watching at home, to believe that there was an ongoing situation. Which there wasn’t.
The first step after being informed of racism using the Premier League protocol is to ask the fourth official to inform security authorities, who should then seek out the perpetrators via stewards etc.
Yesterday, THFC issued two statements. The first was a blanket ‘taking the initiative’ type one, but the second was more robust. Whilst the club made it very clear that it was imperative that any allegations of racist behaviour had to be investigated thoroughly, and it would continue to search for anyone responsible at the Chelsea game, THFC were confident to say that extensive efforts had been inconclusive.
State of the art CCTV had allowed frame by frame analysis of all the fans in the seats near Rudiger, and even lip-readers were called in to examine footage.
Yet Anthony Taylor responded with the severest measure available to him, merely upon the word of one player. One ought to bear in mind that there was no physical evidence such as a projectile, or fans in clear view either gesticulating or barracking.
This case is still very much ongoing, and if the forensic work of Spurs so far is anything to go by, then no stone is being left unturned.
As for Taylor, it remains to be seen what his account of both the situation on the pitc, and his responses to it, reveal.