Former Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay has apologised for sending text messages of a sexist, racist and homophobic nature.
Mackay, who played for Queen’s Park and Celtic and won five Scotland caps, and former Cardiff City head of recruitment Iain Moody were alleged to have exchanged a string of offensive text messages by their former employer. The allegations came to light when it appeared that Mackay was to be offered the manager’s position at Premiership side Crystal Palace.
Among the text messages exchanged include “He’s a snake, a gay snake. Not to be trusted”, in reference to an official from another club. Another bemoaned “the lack of white faces” on a list of target signings.
Mackay initially denied the allegations but has now admitted to being the source of at least three of them. In a statement, he admitted that the messages had been “completely unacceptable, [and] inappropriate…that and any offence I’ve caused, I sincerely apologise. That’s something that I did…there is no excuse.”
The apology marks a rapid turnaround in Mackay’s approach, from initial denial to acceptance of responsibility for at least some of the messages, and underlines the strength of public opinion on the need to combat sexism, racism and homophobia within the game.
Unfortunately, the initial response from the League Managers’ Association in relation to the allegations demonstrates the progress that has yet to be made to ensure that football is genuinely inclusive. In true shambolic fashion, the LMA conceded that “two text messages [were] sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure” and that “Malky believes he could and should have conducted himself better on these two isolated occasions”, but dismissed the discriminating nature of the messages as “letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter”.
This statement gives a sadly accurate reflection of the culture within league football, which remains something of a “lads’ club” in which anything is permissible if it can be described as “banter”.
Yesterday, the LMA issued an apology for trivialising homophobia, sexism and racism – admitting that “it is beyond argument that any comments that are discriminatory, even used in private, are totally unacceptable”. The LMA stated that “it was not their intention” to have caused offence and that it “will continue to work with all of the game’s stakeholders to address the important issues of respect and discriminatory behaviour in all its forms.”
Unfortunately, belated damage limitation is likely to do much to reassure the LGBTI community or anti-discrimination campaigners within the game that the LMA is taking these issues seriously. Former Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore, an active anti-racism campaigner, tweeted that the LMA’s handling of the matter had been “disgraceful…[confirming] the institutional acceptance of the ‘banter’ of casual racism”.
The apologies from both Mackay and the LMA confirms that football, at least at its top levels, remains often unfriendly to the cause of LGBTI equality, institutionally accepting of discrimination and unprepared to deal with the problems of homophobia, racism and sexism.