Former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes said that he found fighting racism in football less “nerve-wracking” than performing in Strictly Come Dancing.
The ex-footballer is coming to Kingston on December 9 to hand out awards to KU sportsmen and women, and to talk about combatting racism – not just on the pitch but off as well.
Barnes, 50, said: “On football grounds, if you make racist chants you’ll get thrown out, so that means racists shut up while the game is on – but it doesn’t stop them being racists. The only solution to the problem is education, but it will take a long time.”
At the event on Monday December 9 Barnes will talk to KU students about tackling race problems in everyday situations.
He will also present awards to talented KU athletes as part of the Sports Performance Programme (SPP).
Jamaican-born Barnes appeared 79 times for England over the course of 12 years, and since retirement has gone on to support and set up a number of charities, including Team48 Motorsport – an initiative aimed at promoting young Afro-Caribbean racing drivers.
Barnes himself had to endure a torrent of racial abuse at the start of his career, including Liverpool supporters writing him messages telling him not to join the club.
Racism on the field
One of the most infamous moments of Barnes’ career was a photograph showing him kicking away a banana which had been thrown at him by a supporter during a match.
He said: “Whether there have been changes or not depends on what you interpret as being racist.
“If you interpret racism as people making monkey chants, then by that definition racism doesn’t exist as much anymore.”
Since retirement, aside from various charity and media work, Barnes has also taken part in the popular BBC series Strictly Come Dancing.
“In terms of achievements, football was my career, so what I achieved there was much more significant. In terms of satisfaction, Strictly was something that means a lot to me too.”
Barnes is considered to be one of the best wingers to have ever played football. He twice won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award and in 2005 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
Barnes’ talk takes place between 12.30pm and 2pm on Monday December 9 in room JG2007 of the John Galsworthy Building, Penrhyn Road Campus.
To get tickets for the event e-mail: I.Jennings@kingston.ac.uk. Places are limited.