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06.04.2011 Feature Article

Shame on you Carlton Cole

Shame on you Carlton Cole
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The 'immigration' tweets that Carlton Cole sent may have been funny in his view but it was ignorant in my opinion. Writes Ade Sawyerr.

Carlton Cole an 'English' England International footballer created a backlash by remarks he posted on Twitter about Ghanaian fans being illegal immigrants.

His tweets during the England-Ghana international soccer friendly last week read, “Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha,” and, “The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George's flag!”; Ignorant and patronising comments such as those made by Cole, whether they are meant to be jokes or not, should be condemned by all.

At a time when football has been making a real effort to kick racism out of sports and when it is even more crucial for black people to band together, I find it disgraceful and extremely distasteful that a black person will be trading jokes on immigration issues.

Issues relating to immigration should never be taken lightly. People migrate for various reasons: to flee trouble spots or in search of better lives and that aspiration for survival and progress must be applauded and not derided.

Those who joke about immigration are often racists who do not think that immigrants especially black people are deserving of their stay in this country; believing that they are taking away their jobs, living off the State, bringing diseases into the country and taking 'English' daughters for wives.

In recent times all political parties have been playing the immigration game and that must be condemned. The ranting by Cameron against multiculturalism is an example of the mainstream finding someone to blame for the current state of affairs in this country even though they acknowledge that it is a better place because of its diversity.

I do not know how and when Carlton Cole's forbearers came into this country but I suspect that they may have faced the angst of the mainstream population at some time – thankfully that is something that we hope to see less and less of in this country.

The ignorance of Carlton Cole surprises all; the majority of people who identify as Ghanaians and rightly so, are second and third generation Ghanaians, their parents and grandparents came here to study and to work. Their descendants are here to stay; a large majority like Carlton Cole are British.

Furthermore with the publication of the Census translated into some Ghanaian languages namely Twi, Ewe and Hausa, contrary to Cole's 'jokes' it can be argued that the government recognises the many Ghanaians who are in this country.

My own son Olumide was at Wembley with his cousins, he wore his Ghanaian jersey with pride. So let us banish these types of jokes to an era when football managers openly claimed that black players lacked the bottle.

The irony of Carlton Cole's statement is disturbing given that at this same match tribute was paid to the first black professional football player in this country – Arthur Wharton. You have guessed right – he was Ghanaian.

Carlton Cole must hang his head in shame for such a tasteless and ignorant joke.

Ade Sawyerr is partner in the diversity and equality focussed consultancy, Equinox Consulting. He can be contacted at You may email him at: [email protected] or visit his blog.

Ade Sawyerr
Ade Sawyerr, © 2011

The author has 86 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AdeSawyerr

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