How, you may ask, does the violent murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, South East London, last week, connect with the world of sport.

Abuse | Vile Shaun Tuck. (Image | Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser)

Tuck shopped | The non-league footballer could be prosecuted by police for his Twitter rant. (Image | Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser)

One of the most disconcerting and predictable elements of the fallout from the tragic events has been verbal attacks and vicious reprisals against non-whites, particularly Muslims.

Part of this prejudice has come from non-league footballer, Shaun Tuck, whose Twitter feed revealed an alarming amount of his unsavoury views on non-footballing matters before it was taken down.

For the full story, I would implore you to read this superb piece by Ian King on his 200% football blog. It gives a clear lowdown, not only on Tuck’s bigoted tweets and support of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), but his past conduct on the field.

I understand how many people could feel apathetic towards Tuck’s comments. After all, he is a non-league footballer, and it is not as though he is a high-profile figure in the game such as Wayne Rooney or Gareth Bale. Why should it matter what this clown has to say?

Primarily it matters because any form of bigotry, anywhere, should not be met with a shrug of the shoulders. While I do not wish for any internet hate or physical harm to be aimed towards Tuck, we all have a responsibility to shine a spotlight on this behaviour, exposing its ugliness. As sports writer, Dave Zirin, said: “Choosing not to take a political stand is still taking a political stand.”

Lest we forget, although Tuck plays for Witton Albion, a club perhaps even some in town of Northwich, Cheshire, itself have not heard of, his side fall under the remit of the Football Association, the governing body of the sport in England.

This is an organisation that has warranted criticism for the way it deals with issues of racism in the game. Regardless of your thoughts on the John Terry and Luis Suárez incidents, the way the FA adjudicated the respective punishments for both seemed to smack of decision making on the fly.

Right-winger | Shaun Tuck in action for Witton Albion. (Image | Pitchero)

Right winger | Shaun Tuck in action for Witton Albion, a club that fall under the jurisdiction of the Football Association. (Image | Pitchero)

Former Manchester United defender-turned-pundit Gary Neville’s sardonic comment, comparing they way the FA makes judgements to the random nature of rolling a dice, has a lot of merit.

Therefore, if we are to believe the FA is taking its new proposals for penalising those that commit acts of racism in the game seriously, then it has to be seen to take swift and stringent action against Tuck.

It should also be pointed out that UEFA (an organisation which has been perceived to be lenient on racism) is set to introduce stiffer penalties than the FA.

The FA cannot legislate for the opinions of its players, but it can and must define clearly what will and will not be accepted. It is saddening that we are more likely see examples of Islamophobia towards South Asians than we are to see any South Asian footballers.

It should not be forgotten that racism in football is generally accepted to be a black issue. While abuse towards black players is important, there should also be a focus on the dearth of players from South Asia and the Middle East, and how infantile jokes about players from the Far East needing to stand on boxes to be at eye-level with their European team-mates still go unchecked.

At the time of writing, we await to see what punishment, if any, is taken against Tuck. I hope that the FA are severe with their measures. However they, and we, cannot then sit back believing we have a handle on bigotry in the game.

Football is England’s national sport and has a discernible influence on our social and cultural make-up. If we do not try to rid Islamophobia from our game, what does it say about us?

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