Repeat: OTB Breakfast

05:00 AM-07:00 AM

Repeat: OTB Breakfast

"Maybe I should have spoken out" | Brian Kerr examines his conscience

As the issue of racism in Irish society came to the fore once again in recent weeks, the former R...


"Maybe I should have spoken out" | Brian Kerr examines his conscience

As the issue of racism in Irish society came to the fore once again in recent weeks, the former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr considered what he could have done differently when he held a position of prominence. 

In the aftermath of his spell as the Republic of Ireland manager, Brian Kerr acknowledged that criticism he received throughout his tenure occasionally concerned decisions that had nothing to do with football.

"There was a lot of hate-mail sent to me," he recalled in conversation with Off The Ball. "As I understood it, the letters were about the fact that we had black players in the team. Also, I had black members of staff at that time in Chris Hughton and Adam Bux."

Although directed at Kerr, it was his personal assistant Eithne at the FAI who dealt with the offensive objects directly and passed them on to the authorities. Nevertheless, he could readily imagine what they contained; without understanding why, necessarily.

"I hired those men because of their ability," he remarked of Hughton and Bux, "and I was also aware that the staff should be representative of the team. We had black players in our team so the staff should have black people in it too."

Yet, 15 years after he departed the role, Brian Kerr has been considering whether or not he used his platform as effectively as he could have done.

Brian Kerr

"I've examined my own conscience about this in recent days," he admitted as the issue of racism flared up once more in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder in the United States. "Although I've been involved with Sport Against Racism in Ireland (SARI) for many, many years, maybe I should have been more outspoken when I was manager of the Irish team.

"I didn't actually receive any of that hate mail personally because it was intercepted by my PA in the FAI, but maybe if I had read it and saw? Maybe I should have spoken out more?"

Appointed manager of the Republic of Ireland team in 2003, Kerr's managerial background had seen him spend a significant amount of time in the League of Ireland.

As manager of St. Patrick's Athletic, he similarly wondered whether he acted to the best of his ability while with the Dublin club.

"Even going back on my time as manager of Pats where Curtis Fleming and Paul Osam were playing," he ventured, "or Paul McGrath had played before that?

"With other players across the league too, did we all just sit idly by and pass it off? 'Ah, it wasn't that bad, only a bit of stick from the crowd'. Really, it wasn't too bad for us, not for them."

"There's a latent racism, but also an obvious racism, a blatant racism. It isn't being dealt with by governments, by people or society. It hasn't been dealt with in sport either. This may be a turning-point, but I am kind of sad that this is all happening so late.

"I hope what's happening now won't be just forgotten about though. This has got to be a time of real change for society."

Brian Kerr was speaking to Off The Ball in the aftermath of last night's return to Premier League football. You can watch back his interview in full here

Download the brand new OffTheBall App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OffTheBall's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.

Read more about

Brian Kerr Chris Hughton Clinton Morrison Republic Of Ireland Steven Reid