FA Charge Italian Bellusci With Racism…for Speaking in Italian – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci: "Posso negare il razzismo!"

Bellusci: “Posso negare il razzismo!

The latest news on the latest Cameron Jerome “racial abuse” claims: Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci will attend in person to put his version of events to an FA disciplinary commission tomorrow – let’s hope that he gets a fair hearing and doesn’t become a victim of “antipodean marsupial justice”. I won’t hold my breath – although the impartiality of football authorities’ judicial proceedings IS coming on in leaps and bounds…

There was a time when corroborative evidence from a third party was required – or at least highly desirable – in order for a charge as serious as racial abuse to be brought against a football player or other alleged offender. Rumour has it that, in some areas of footballing and other jurisprudence, that may even still be the case. But this is Leeds United, so those troublesome little considerations needn’t apply – or so it increasingly seems. 

Whatever the moral and legal ins and outs, the FA have looked into a complaint by Cameron Jerome of Norwich City FC against Giuseppe Bellusci of Leeds. Jerome alleges racist language. Bellusci hotly denies any such thing. Who is to say which man is telling the truth? It could even be that the whole thing is an unfortunate misunderstanding across the language barrier – see below. But, leaving all of these problems aside, the FA are prepared to make a case of it, despite the hideous difficulty of establishing the truth when Party A alleges something, Party B denies it (Beh, è il vostro diritto di negare questa accusa, Giuseppe, non è vero?)* – and there is no Party C to swear true from false.

* The Italian phrase above means (as nearly as Google translate allows me to render it) “Well, it’s your right to deny this accusation, Giuseppe, isn’t it?” You may notice how I have subtly emphasised the word “negare“, meaning “deny”. Apparently, one plank of Bellusci’s defence is that, after being elbowed by Mr Jerome and then being treated to a volley of ripe abuse by that gentleman, he remarked to him quite calmly, in Italian, whilst pointing at his own neck “You can’t deny the elbow”. 

If this is true, and if Jerome (whose Italian may not be exactly fluent as Serie A clubs have managed somehow to resist signing him thus far) has simply mistaken the word “negare” as something racially sinister – then, in the absence of any corroborative evidence either way, it’s very hard to see how a fair-minded, competent authority could possibly find against Signor Bellusci. That’s not to say, of course, that the FA will have any such difficulty, particularly as this is another golden opportunity for the football powers that be to have another swipe at nasty old Leeds, much to the delight of rival fans, gutter press hacks and other such morons everywhere. But that plank of the Leeds man’s defence appears, on the face of it, to be fairly stout.

It’s a pretty dicey situation, this. These are troubled, even shark-infested waters. The FA may feel that racism is such a topical hot potato that, where an allegation is made, a charge should follow as night follows day, lest they be thought of as sweeping things under the carpet. That, however, doesn’t entitle them to dispense with good old English precepts like “innocent until proven guilty” – nor yet the even older Latin one about prima facie evidence.

In the glaring absence of any corroboration whatsoever, and with the intriguing possibility of a tragic misunderstanding as outlined above, it’s genuinely difficult to see how the charge against Bellusci can be proven – even under the less legally exacting ‘balance of probabilities’ test that applies in non-criminal cases. Or, to put my paranoid hat back on, might the allegedly august governing body hold that, as the player is on the books of the Damned United, he’s more likely than not a wrong’un – and find accordingly against him? Tread carefully, chaps. There will be some pretty sharp lawyers out there watching your every step down the crooked path you might be tempted to follow. Ask Shaun Harvey over at the League about that.

Leeds United AFC, it warms my heart to confirm, are standing four-square behind their man, and for solid and grounded reasons – namely: the player consistently denies the allegation; and there is no independent confirmation of what was, or wasn’t, said. Certain Norwich City supporters have taken to Twitter and hormonally demanded that Leeds United should be summarily liquidated for this stance. I can only clap my face to my palm in despair and recommend that such very un-cerebral people might benefit from an elementary law course, a session watching “Petrocelli” or maybe a somewhat larger gene pool – quite possibly all three. Not, of course, that I would wish to be in any way Wurzellist or yokellist here.

As ever with Leeds United and their frequent brushes with the game’s authorities, it’s not possible to predict any outcome with any degree of confidence. But, given the apparent and hard-to-dispute facts of this case, surely there would have to be an excess of stupidity, malice and vindictiveness for the decision to go against Bellusci. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened…

The sad fact is that we are in a mess largely of our own making in that football governing bodies and fans organisations alike have tended over the past few decades to recoil in horror at any manifestation of racial prejudice. This has to be A Good Thing, of course – but it can have unfortunate consequences and there is arguably too much room these days for sledgehammers to be employed in the cracking of walnuts.

I’m not advocating any return to the days when a racial slur was tolerated and complainants were advised to take a “sticks and stones may break my bones” approach. It is tempting to wonder, though, what the likes of Cyrille Regis and Viv Anderson feel about the current squeamishness over name calling by the ignorant, as compared with what they had to go through in their seventies heyday – having bananas thrown at them, and other disgusting manifestations of brainless and moronic behaviour. What of our own late and lamented Albert Johanneson, who was staggered to find that he was allowed in the communal bath with the rest of the players, so used was he to being considered a second-class citizen where he grew up. Would our Albert have had a hissy fit over a name he thought he’d heard someone call him? Of course not. It’s all relative, and Albert had come from something far, far worse.

Surely to goodness, there’s a sane and happy medium somewhere? The experience of the past few years seems to be that it’s far too easy for allegations of racism to be made over hasty and possibly misapprehended words, exchanged in the heat of battle. If racial abuse can be demonstrated and if proof is at hand, then the offender should be dealt with accordingly – and in a manner to leave him (or her) in absolutely no doubt as to the inadvisability of such childish and ignorant carrying-on. But kangaroo courts hearing trumped-up charges based on uncorroborated and very possibly flawed statements – that’s a dangerous path to tread, and not one calculated to lead to increased harmony in our increasingly multi-cultural leagues. Whatever next? Will we see some hapless and brainless defensive midfielder hauled up on charges of being gingerist or stoutist? Just how stupid is the game prepared to make itself look?

Verbal abuse (whether racially-motivated or not) if it’s going to be the basis of disciplinary charges, needs to be at the most deeply offensive end of the scale – and it needs to be witnessed to such a degree as to make denial implausible. Otherwise, we’re going to continue with this spate of “name-calling” charges, and it’ll be open season on any hothead who lets his gob run away with him when tensions rise out there on the park. This would do no person and no cause any good at all – it would serve merely to trivialise something potentially highly damaging to the whole of sport and indeed society at large.

Here’s hoping that this current situation was the product of a misunderstanding, that both parties can be satisfied this is the case – and that the FA can conduct an urgent root and branch review into the standard of evidence and corroboration required before its wheels of justice start to grind. There is a very real danger here that our national sport’s venerable governing body might just end up looking even more stupid and out-of-touch than usual.

33 responses to “FA Charge Italian Bellusci With Racism…for Speaking in Italian – by Rob Atkinson

  1. It looks as if the annual ‘be nice to Leeds Utd’ week, starting with Mowatt’s YP award and 2 key offside/onside decisions going in our favour, is now over. Normal service has been resumed.


  2. another case of the stupid FA shooting themselves in the foot. I am sure that there will be ample opportunity for good lawyers to take the FA to task through the courts after they have found Bellusci culpably and unquestionably guilty with aggravated intent, based on the fact that he plays for Leeds with no supporting evidence for the charge!


  3. I agree it shouldn’t go anywhere as it’s one word vs another, but your argument makes no sense. He is playing football in England against an Englishman…the only reason you would speak in Italian was if it was something you didn’t want them to understand.

    You certainly wouldn’t be saying something as complex as you suggest as you knew they wouldn’t understand. It would be one or two words (which he’s likely to know in English as football clubs teach them footy basics straight off) or an action.

    Typical leeds fan making out its a duplicitous scheme against your poor penniless establishment…Or should I have said that in italian as you’re bound to understand being English living in England and all that?!


    • You were doing so well for half a sentence, but then you reverted to defensive type and started spouting utter bollocks. Pity.


    • BS. In the heat of the moment it would be all to easy to revert to your native language without even realising it for a moment, especially if you’re being physically threatened, which in effect is what was going on. And surely you know how fast italians speak… an entire sentence can be out in half a second. Claiming logic and clear thought rules 100% is nonsense.


  4. The FA will do well not to set a precedent here. If it is simply one word against t’other then they cannot condemn Bellusci. Otherwise the floodgates are opened and every player in the country holds the integrity of their opponents in the hands. One bad foul and “he called be a bad word” = 3 game ban. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. If Bellusci and the Norwich lad were squaring up, there would be players around. yet no-one heard owt? The case is a dud.

    Nice article as usual Rob


    • Brilliantly summarised – it IS ridiculous already, and this kind of muddled excuse for thinking is set fair to make it more so. Dolts and nincompoops running our game.


    • The precedent was set in Scotland before Christmas, when the Celtic player got a 7 match ban when there were no independent witnesses, and it was one player’s word against another. The FSA concluded that the player accused of making a racist comment was a ‘less credible’ witness than the player making the complaint.

      If Bellusci gets less than a 6 game ban I’ll be astonished. Saddened, but astonished …..


      • The thing is, it might not boil down to one man’s word over another’s. There is the possibility of misapprehension, whereby Bellusci said “negare” and Jerome heard something shockingly different.


  5. He has only just come over from Italy and is learning the English language how is he supposed to communicate with him in English. I bet he doesn’t even know what he is supposed to have said never mind understand it.


  6. Me thinks that the timing is intended to damage the players over the busy Xmas period.


  7. Anyone know if the FL will charge Karl Oylston with an offence following the insulting texts that he sent which are grossly offensive to people with learning difficulties?


    • Nope – he said sorry – after a fashion (I’m sorry I allowed myself to be dragged down to the level blah, blah). Perhaps his dad said sorry for that rape business too. Couple of fine gents there, hey what??


    • will they bollox, he’s part of the fl


  8. Wouldn’t we all love to be judged by that shower of excrement?


  9. On the nose Mr Atkinson…


  10. Dirty Deputy Dane

    Also strange timing now that Bellushi is injury free! Bet he will be banned since our defense is lacklustre without him. MOT


  11. NCFC supporter….
    the whole situation should have been sorted out in the dressing room between two managers two players and the ref. I notice that Jerome has not gone around making a habit of this and nor has Bellusci been blamed before. so shake hands like men


  12. I agree with cellino though. If he is racist, I want him out of the club.

    We are Leeds not feckin Chelsea


    • He can only be established as a racist by his own admission, as there is zero evidence against him beyond Jerome’s less than completely reliable statement.


  13. The FA will also study footage from cameras etc. Your whole piece is based on there is no evidence, how do you know there is none. Until the case has been before them, I would have thought it best not to make such remarks. As for being at the “most deeply offensive end” I would have thought any abuse is at this level if you are on the receiving end. Leave it to the correct channels and keep your comments until after the case, they have the facts we don’t hence why its taken so long


  14. This could be useful, just pick anyone decent playing for a rival and make the same accusation, thus removing them from contributing for weeks and, of course, helping stamp out racists from the beautiful game. No need for proof it seems. By the way, having lived abroad and played I can assure you I continued to scream at hackers in English (but always politically correctly).


  15. tony piggott

    the saddest part of this is the flood gates that will open if, as expected, the f a find Mr B guilty with no evidence, just an accusation. How many times will players find it easy to remove a rival player from a team for a while thus weakening their team and strengthening the accusers teams chances by calling the ref over and saying “their star striker just used racist words at me”
    Sad world we are in.


  16. tony piggott

    ps, just seen the above comment (shrop) and says about the same thing as me.


  17. Granulated

    Bellusci is one eighth Afro-Caribbean, maybe I dunno, doesn’t that count for something in this day and age of sweary rap music ?!

    Yours SIncerely,
    Alan Hard-Ache


  18. Pingback: Cameron Jerome “Disappointed” NOT to Have Been Racially Abused – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

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