GIVEN events in Serbia last week, it’s fitting that we marked the One Game, One Community initiative when we played Wolves on Saturday.
Kick it Out, who work throughout the football, educational and community sectors to confront racism and encourage inclusion, are behind the campaign, and all clubs have supported it.
Sean Scannell and our captain Peter Clarke are Town ambassadors for One Game, One Community, and have been out and about spreading the message that the game is for everyone, regardless of race, colour or creed.
Nobody is pretending that the problem has completely gone away in our country, and there have, of course, been recent very high-profile cases involving Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
But the situation is certainly nowhere near as bad as it was 30 or 40 years ago, and I can honestly say that during my career, I never heard any racial abuse against a fellow player.
There certainly is a bigger problem elsewhere in Europe, and it’s not just confined to the eastern countries, like Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria, all of whom have been punished after racial abuse by fans.
It’s also happened in Spain and Italy, with Lazio last week fined £32,500 by UEFA after their supporters abused Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend during a Europa League game at White Hart Lane.
But you have to say that in the overall scheme of things, a £32,500 fine is pretty meaningless.
It’s been well documented that Nicklas Bendtner was fined much more for exposing his bookmaker- sponsored undies at Euro 2012.
Thankfully, fears of problems in Poland and Ukraine during that tournament failed to materialise.
But the situation the England Under 21s faced in Serbia was very unpleasant and very worrying.
There were two major issues – the racist abuse and the clashes between the two sets of players and coaching teams at the end of the game.
It certainly looked like England were on the receiving end in both, and in my book, the claims by the Serbian FA trying to blame Danny Rose and England for the problems make the whole thing even worse.
The focus is now firmly on UEFA. To me, banning Serbia for a meaningful period of time is the only option, but will it happen?