Surely time to put the ban into banter

Under-fire former Cardiff boss Malky Mackay who should have consigned banter to the bin

Under-fire former Cardiff boss Malky Mackay who should have consigned banter to the bin

First published in Sport
Last updated
by , Deputy sports editor

THERE is a six-letter word that surely must now be banned entirely from football. No, it's not Fergie, nor Suarez, nor diving and not even Rooney - once a Blue, always a Blue, except when you become a Manc. Pah.

Above all these six-letter words like Everest towering atop a worm-cast, is the ever increasing offensive offender - BANTER.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary interprets said such word as "good-humoured teasing". But can any single word be so far away from its original meaning, especially when it is applied to sport, and in particular, football?

Malky Mackay, the former Cardiff manager and would-be Crystal Palace boss, is the latest user of banter.

However, what he in a statement issued by the League Managers' Association, described as banter has helped to crucify him as he sidled away from the hot-seat at Palace for which he was apparently nailed on.

His former employers, Cardiff, revealed a series of texts between Mackay, then at the helm of the Welsh club to Iain Moody - Cardiff's head of recruitment - before the latter's exit and subsequent shipping up in an exalted position at Crystal Palace.

The text messages allegedly contained racist, homophobic and sexist content and were included alongside information on a number of transfers at the Welsh club, in a dossier compiled by the Cardiff owner, Vincent Tan, and the London law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Moody this week stepped down from his Palace post, while Mackay’s expected confirmation as the new boss of the south London club was hastily shelved.

According to the LMA, which relayed Mackay's apology, he was sorry for sending texts that were "disrespectful of other cultures"/ But the scandal was deepened by the LMA's defence statement which conceded questionable text messages had been written, but claimed Mackay was “was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter”.

There's that word again - banter - now football's catch-all excuse.

Remember Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore's banter of earlier this year when sexist emails from his work inbox were leaked to the press. The FA took no action, adding how its policy was not to act on “private communications”.

Said the LMA statement on Mackay: “In the course of a search by the club in early 2014 of 10,000 private text messages sent to and from another member of staff during Mr Mackay’s employment at Cardiff, in relation to other matters, it emerged that Malky had, it seems, sent a couple of one-line texts that were, with the benefit of hindsight, very regrettable and disrespectful of other cultures.

“These were two text messages sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure and when he was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter.

"That said, Malky believes he could and should have conducted himself better on these two isolated occasions. If Malky has caused any offence by these two isolated matters he would, however, wish to sincerely apologise.”

Mackay has strenuously denied media reports that he also wrote any homophobic or sexist messages and announced he is to fight those allegations.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, sprang to Mackay's defence of Mackay claiming how he was guilty of making a bad mistake, but should not be drummed out of the game.

But there are two rankling issues in all this, aside from the nasty taste of discrimination.

According to the LMA statement posed "if Mackay has caused any offence". There is no doubt that the reported racist content was indeed grossly offensive.

There is also the question of the LMA statement which defends the former Cardiff boss. As Piara Powerf, executive director of the anti-discrimination body FARE remarked, this was a case of defending the indefensible, labelling the LMA statement "utterly ridiculous".

Since the original statement, the LMA has taken it down from its website and issued a further release apologising for describing the discriminatory test messages as "banter" and for "trivialising" serious matters.

The new LMA statement added: "It is beyond argument that any comments that are discriminatory, even used in private, are totally unacceptable."

Too little, too late, I'm afraid. You can almost still hear the sound of the hooves of a horse called banter disappearing over a hill with the stable door wildly swinging open.

Comments (1)

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7:23pm Sat 23 Aug 14

goatman says...

Would this be the same 'Jolly Banter' Munich song that your pals at Anfield serenade the Manchester United supporters with? Or maybe the fact that nobody black or gay died means it's open season. Plank.
Would this be the same 'Jolly Banter' Munich song that your pals at Anfield serenade the Manchester United supporters with? Or maybe the fact that nobody black or gay died means it's open season. Plank. goatman
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