We Campaign: Gray Discusses Discrimination
Last week Watford FC launched the We campaign, encouraging inclusivity and working with the Police to tackle all kinds of discrimination directly. Having experienced discrimination himself, Andre Gray has spoken about how this campaign is going a step further to make a difference.
“The only way at this moment is to deal with discrimination as a club, like Watford are doing, and to deal with your own community,” said the Hornets striker.
“It’s how we deal with our fans, how we engage with them and the younger people around in the community, so it doesn’t happen where we are. If every club starts to take that approach, it’s a building block.”
While campaigns exist to educate and otherwise tackle discrimination in football, Gray believes there comes a point where education needs to be followed up with action.
Through the We campaign Watford FC has formed direct links with the Herts Police Hate Crime team to follow any reports of discrimination – which can be called out on social media using #watfordfc #BuzzOff – through to prosecution.
“I don’t understand what person is going to come to the ground, see a little badge or the boys warming up in a t-shirt and think ‘you know what, I’m not racist anymore, I like these people’,” said Gray.
“You’re not going to change their opinion. It’s all good putting it out there, but what is actually being done? Because it always gets brushed under the carpet, something always comes up which comes above it.
“It’s about keeping it out of the stadium because of kids that are sat in front, sat behind and kids that are watching that on TV, they see what’s been going on and that’s the problem.”
Never one to shy away from his past, Gray also spoke about offensive tweets he posted in 2012, which earned him a four-match ban when they resurfaced in 2016, and the importance of learning from past mistakes.
“I was a product of my environment, I was uneducated on situations and I put some very bad things out,” he said. “When it came out, I didn’t realise they were still there or that I even did it, but I accepted it, I had to. I held my hands up and long since then I have educated myself.
“I’ve seen the world and come across a lot of different people, different types of people in all walks of life. I’ve learned a lot and grown up.
“I’ve got a strong opinion because I’ve been on the wrong side of it as well, where someone will have a strong opinion about me and the way I conducted myself when I was younger. I’m always going to be honest, I’m not going to run from my past and bury it under the carpet because it is what it is, that’s how it was and I can’t hide from that.
“All those mistakes I made growing up were just lessons I learned along the way. I probably made too many mistakes but every time I did, I learned that little bit more, understood that little bit more and kept growing.”
For Gray, the role Watford can play as a football club in having an impact by being different is vital, by taking direct action against discrimination.
“It’s important to know there’s more in the game than football,” he said. “This football world is a very short part of your life, so it’s important to not just talk about football, but to talk about other things as well.”
Help us identify offenders fast. Call out discrimination on your social media using: #watfordfc #BuzzOff.