Reece James burst onto the scene last season, making him a name for himself as one of the best young prospects in the English game. The Chelsea right back has gotten a lot more time on the pitch this year and supporters have been treated to the technical, adept and solid play of the 21-year-old. Despite being so young, he’s become one of the team’s most important figures and voices in the dressing room. Part of this is thanks in part to the tutelage of Thiago Silva, the other reason for this is his personality beginning to shine.
If it wasn’t for players like Mason Mount, James would be the runaway favorite to sport the captain’s armband for the next decade. The Redbridge native embodies every principle of the club both on and off the pitch. James is an excellent footballer, but more importantly, he’s an amazing human being. He’s intelligent, strong-willed, caring and compassionate—everything you could ask for in a role model. Knowing all of that about the youngster makes this next sentence even more difficult to write. James deleted his Instagram account on Wednesday after the Blues’ fullback suffered from unimaginable levels of racial abuse.
James has been a leading voice in the Premier League’s campaign to kick racism out in years past, along with some of the other members of the club. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has personally put forth a lot of effort over the years in order to educate players and fans about the types of abuse different groups suffer. He was quick to show his support for his right back, releasing a public statement stating that Chelsea will step up its efforts to do all it can to combat discrimination after James was abused early in February. Mount and other Blues players rallied around James to show their support, but none of this was enough.
We may not all know how it feels to be personally discriminated against, but we’ve all seen the mental and physical toughness of James displayed on countless occasions. If knowing he reached a breaking point isn’t enough to churn your stomach, I have no words for you. His charitable work and overall commitment to being a better person than footballer is second to none and something we can all admire. It has now become evident that James cannot do it alone—nor should he have to.
We can all do more. We have to do more.
I am not going to pretend to have the answers, I don’t know exactly where to go from here. However, one thing I can personally promise is that we at The Pride of London will do everything in our power to combat discrimination. It cannot stop with us either. The Premier League needs to do more, social media companies need to do more and law enforcement across the globe needs to do more.
While the vile human beings who forced James to delete some of his accounts may have a feeling of accomplishment in the present, they cannot be allowed to win—they will never win. James will undoubtedly recover from this and continue to take the high ground because that’s just the type of person he is. Chelsea—from the owner’s desk on down to the players—has rallied around its own when they are discriminated against, and now it’s our turn. It’s our turn to recognize that even some of our own fans are guilty of these heinous actions. It’s time everyone takes a look in the mirror. Even if it’s simply reporting an individual when you see or hear discriminatory remarks, every little action helps make the world a better place.
We rally around one another to dance to the music of Madness after a match and look to loud neighbors when celebrating a goal—those are the simple joys of supporting a football club—but being a community means lending a hand, a shoulder and an ear to those you care about in times of need. These conversations are often awkward, and seldom easy to discuss, they are necessary though.
Football is the world’s largest game and the reason for that is its widespread accessibility. Individuals from all walks of life support the beautiful game—especially a club as massive as Chelsea—and at times, let the name of the game down by tarnishing its image. There is a lot of talk about opposition and winning on our site, on this we are unified though. Whether you’re a Chelsea supporter or a Spurs fan; black or white; heterosexual or homosexual; young or old—football is for you. It’s time to reclaim our game and kick discrimination out once and for all.
Football is for everybody, but there is No Room for Racism.