The PFA comments on awards ceremony comedian
The Professional Footballers’ Association says it is “totally dismayed” by the “unacceptable language” used by comedian Reginald D Hunter in Sunday night’s awards ceremony in London.
Hunter, a black American from Georgia, shocked footballers and their guests during the Player of the Year awards at the Grosvenor House hotel in central London by repeatedly using the word ‘n*****’ during his act.
PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle admitted he was embarrassed that Hunter had been booked to perform at the prestigious awards night, and the organisation responded with a strongly worded statement, which read: “The PFA regrets the offence caused by the performance of Reginald D Hunter at last night’s awards ceremony in London.”
The statement continued: “We share the strong disappointment felt by our diverse membership at the choice of language throughout his appearance.
The topic of racism in football has hit the headlines over the last two years in particular, with John Terry and Luis Suarez both receiving bans for racial abuse, although former England captain Terry was cleared of racism in a criminal trial.
The PFA insisted on Monday night that there was no inkling that the 44-year-old stand-up comic would use such language when they hired him for the event.
“He was booked on the basis of his recent television appearances, however clearly his performance last night was of a very different nature,” the PFA statement continued. “Whilst we are not generally made aware of the material a comedian intends on doing, it is clear that the language used was unacceptable.
“In a conference call with Reginald and three members of The London Speakers Bureau, through which he was recruited, it was outlined the makeup of our audience which would be widely diverse including around 25% of women and ages ranging from 18 to 80.
“It was made absolutely clear that swearing or any racist references were to be avoided. Therefore we were totally dismayed that the performance was the exact opposite of our requirement.”
On Sunday night PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor tried to play down the furore surrounding Hunter’s choice of language. When asked whether it was a mistake to allow Hunter to perform, Taylor replied: “No, no, don’t be silly. Are you serious? I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian, but that is the sort of thing you can’t control. It was unfortunate.”
A statement from Kick It Out read: “It is a matter for the PFA and enquiries related to it should be directed there. Kick It Out condemns racial slurs, the use of the n-word irrespective of context, and will act on any complaints made to the organisation on it.”