Everton Football Club have confirmed that they have banned Sun journalists from their ground following an article in the newspaper which has been accused of race hatred. The article, written by Kelvin MacKenzie, likened Ross Barkley, a mixed-race footballer, to a gorilla. The Sun newspaper apologised for the article, which was withdrawn, and suspended Mackenzie who is a former editor of the paper.
Everton said in a statement:
“Yesterday Everton Football Club informed The Sun newspaper it was banned from Goodison Park, the USM Finch Farm training ground and all areas of the Club’s operation.
Whilst we will not dignify any journalist with a response to appalling and indefensible allegations, the newspaper has to know that any attack on this City, either against a much respected community or individual, is not acceptable”.
Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, said:
“Make no mistake about it, MacKenzie’s words were racist”.
David Isaac, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“At a time when we need to heal divisions in our country, these comments are at best careless and poorly timed. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, but in exercising that right the media must act sensibly and consider the impact that publishing material like this will have. Many people will be rightly offended by these comments”.
The police also confirmed that an investigation was underway into MacKenzie’s article. MacKenzie rejected the criticism, saying that it was “beyond parody” for him to be accused of racism.