Powar denies racism after 'coconut' jibe sent on Twitter

QUESTIONS are being asked about Piara Powar’s suitability as the figurehead of a European anti-racism body after he was accused of making racially abusive comments towards an Asian football supporter.

Powar heads up the Football Against Racism in Europe organisation, sometimes referred to as the FARE Network, and has been very outspoken about Luis Suárez, Liverpool FC and Liverpool supporters since the incident with Patrice Evra first came to light.

Yesterday an Asian Liverpool supporter received a message on Twitter, from @PiaraPowar, calling him “a coconut”.

@PiaraPowar 'coconut' jibe

@PiaraPowar's 'coconut' jibe to Asian Liverpool supporter

The insult came after the supporter had asked why Powar had not made any comment on news that a Manchester United supporter had been charged for alleged racial abuse at their game against Stoke City earlier in the week. Rather than respond publicly, the private message was sent and contained what can be considered to be an example of racial abuse: Don’t be a “coconut.”

Although Powar is yet to take steps to explain his intended meaning of the term, it is a term used as a way of accusing someone of betraying their own cultural roots and pandering to “white” opinion.  It relates to a coconut being white on the inside and brown on the outside.

In some contexts – between friends for example – it can be seen as harmless and no offence would be taken. In other contexts it would be taken as a deeply offensive insult, and certainly that would seem to be the case where it is used when addressing a stranger.

In 2010 Shirley Brown, a Bristol politician, was found guilty of racial harassment after using the term when talking to Jay Jethwa, a fellow politician who had moved to the UK from India 24 years before. The remark was found to be “purely gratuitous” and it was ruled that “there was a potential for, albeit minor, public disorder and stimulation for racial hatred.”

The victim, Ms Jethwa, explained how upsetting the comment had been: “I was completely shocked and I was numb.  I was very, very upset and distressed.

“The word is doubly insulting as it insults both me and the white population.”

The message Powar responded to was perfectly reasonable:

“@PiaraPowar Interesting how u haven’t given your opinion on the news that a #mufc fan was arrested on Wednesday for alleged racial abuse”

The response was far from it:

“Get lost Singh. Have no false consciousness. Don’t be a coconut.”

After making the comment the Powar locked the Twitter account and blocked a number of others who had asked a similar question.

For clarity, the arrest of the Manchester United fan was on Tuesday night after a Stoke City fan made a complaint that a spectator was shouting abuse at Stoke players. The Press Association reported the incident on Friday:

“Howard Hobson, 57, is accused of a racially aggravated public order offence and using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

“Hobson, of Weaver Walk, Openshaw, Manchester, was arrested at the Manchester United v Stoke City game on Tuesday.”

Powar had yet to make any comment whatsoever on the incident and the following morning he was asked why not. A reminder of his comments following the incident at Anfield in January, when Tom Adeyemi was the victim of alleged racial abuse, was also sent to Powar.

Those comments from Powar came on January 7th:

“Are LFC fans going to do this at every game, support the mistakes made by their own man by abusing others? 25% of PL [Premier League] players are black.”

One fan, allegedly, had shouted racial abuse. Powar was now talking like it was part of the fan culture at Anfield.

The comments – made from the same Twitter account that made the “coconut” jibe – were widely reported in the mass media. His mudslinging was once again hitting the headlines and because of his position his comments were not being questioned. Despite there being very little information available about the structure, funding or accountability of FARE his comments were taken as authoritative by the mass media. His past as the spokesman of Kick It Out perhaps plays a part in that, although it is unclear why he left Kick It Out and the organisation are still to fill the role he left vacant.

@PiaraPowar was very outspoken after incident at Anfield in January, yet remained silent on Old Trafford incident

@PiaraPowar outspoken after incident at Anfield, remained silent on Old Trafford incident

Without going over the reasons many Liverpool supporters (but not all) had for being supportive of Suárez and critical of the process the comments from Powar caused a lot of offence. Fans supportive of Suárez were not supporting racism or racial abuse – they just didn’t believe he was guilty of either.  Fans who commented on the Adeyemi abuse allegations agreed en masse that if the allegations were true they wouldn’t want that supporter inside Anfield again.

@PiaraPowar says "no chance" he'll let LFC fans follow his tweets

@PiaraPowar tells LFC fans they've "no chance" of following him on Twitter

Today, to those who aren’t yet blocked from seeing Powar’s comments on Twitter, he remains defiant in his comments. He was asked if his message was rude:

“The private messge? Yes it’s very rude. Racist? If sent 2 someone of same ethnic origin, religion, heritage? Try harder.”

Also, having blocked a number of Liverpool supporters and making the rest of his comments private to his selected audience, he said there was “no chance” he would allow Liverpool fans to see the rest of what he had to say:

“Wake up to hundreds of LFC fans who want to follow. I wonder why? #nochance”

Again, assuming all Liverpool fans are the same, he decides none of them should be allowed to hear what he has to say about them.

@PiaraPowar with another sweeping generalisation

@PiaraPowar with another sweeping generalisation

Powar’s ‘coconut’ comment, sent privately, smacks of bullying. If the Asian fan doesn’t go along with Powar’s way of doing things he’s betraying his roots. Powar seems to be suggesting that non-white LFC fans should forget their true feelings and stick with Powar – purely because of skin colour. If Powar feels he’s done no wrong then he needs to explain; instead he carries on slagging people off through Twitter.

Some will argue that use of the phrase “coconut” is not racist. Indeed Powar has tried to do so himself. But the person he aimed it at, and others who saw it, deem it to be highly offensive. For Powar not to realise that his comment could cause offence – whether any was intended or not – suggests he is in the wrong job. If the offence was intended he certainly shouldn’t be in the job.

Not that it took this comment from the man for many people to reach this conclusion about him. Powar and FARE have shown no interest whatsoever in engaging with Liverpool FC or its supporters at any time since news first broke of Evra’s allegations about Suarez. Emails from Anfield Road to FARE remain unanswered, and have done so for some time.

Powar has restricted his opinions to himself and his 347 followers now. In the absence of some credible explanations and some long overdue apologies it’s best it stays that way. And if Lord Ouseley and Kick It Out are happy to be associated with him then that raises serious questions about their credibility too. They need to distance themselves from him or their campaign will suffer – especially when they preach so much about “zero tolerance”.

Powar has had enough airtime, but if the other anti-discrimination campaigners allow this to be swept under the carpet without explanation then they have also had enough airtime. Time someone else got the cushy jobs.

Maybe it’s time they listened to John Barnes a bit more too.


  • Paul

    Well said Jim. Now circulate it to the nationals and see if they (Ollie Holt, Henry Winter etc.) pick it up.

  • hassinator

    well in jim – he has also had very little to say about the #sweetfa decision to strip terry of his captaincy whether its sub judice or not

  • 3PhDs

    Powar is a racist.

  • Mo

    Hey guy let take this matter far,

    FARE secretariat

    PO Box 67536


    EC2P 2HY

    United Kingdom

    T: +44 20 7193 0156
    E: info[@]farenet.org
    That is their contact

    • Loveen Ross

      I’ve emailed FARE – this guy doesn’t deserve to be in post and is a disgrace to the British Asian community.

  • Nivster

    This guy has mocked Liverpool fc players, management, supporters and City of Liverpool by associating us with racism continuously. This has got to get into the media so that everyone knows what a hypocrite he is and that he has double standards.

    I’m brown and love this football club but at the same time i’m going to be realistic and point out that racism still exists everywhere by people of all colour but only certain idiots decide to take things further.

    People like Power are very stupid if they think that only the recent racial issues surrounding Liverpool has encouraged racism in the game further. He should do his job correctly.

  • Lawless

    The Mirror included a 1″ by 3″ piece about the Man U fan incident on Friday I think it was. Not really making a point of it. Oliver Holt amongst others haven’t dared print the possible Luis Suarez version of events in fear they’ll be branded supporters of racism. Even the booing last week, we booed him beacause we think he lied about what happened, not because we’re horrified by the fact he decided to speak up about being racially abused. If it was actually proven and not decided on the balance of a probability then I alongside many fans would’ve happily accepted the ban given and would’ve wanted to have seen a club disciplinary action taken too as it’s not acceptable. Journos are the people who are meant to provide a (laughs to ones self) ‘impartial’ story to the people like us who can’t gain access to the facts. As a result, we’re goaded and pointed at for deciding to make up our own minds and support a man we think is being victimised against.

  • This guy is an absolute disgrace, using your colour to take the moral high ground, and then contradicting yourself by abusing someone in the same way he preached against, absolute wankpiece!
    Take this national!!!!!

  • Big Man

    Great article Jim!! This guy has been exposed as not only a joke; but a racist, and a hypocrite….he ought to get himself in order before he decides to criticise others!! Just another (forgive the pun) power seeker looking for his 15mins of fame by jumping on the Suarez media band-wagon…he should learn that a closed mouth gathers no foot!!

  • yuva seegoolam

    dn’t be surprised about his comments. He has been riding high fighting racism he forgot that truth always surfaces at one point or another. time to see who is racist Pow or r we in the years in india under British Rule. The media where is ethics, fairness and equity in treating racist cases

  • jj

    This man has been trying to make a name for himself evra since the start of all this trouble and has shown himself up for what he his a RACIST BULLY who has no excuse of ignorance or cultural differences !

  • MackemScouse

    Lets be honest. This won’t make the nationals. A disgrace I know but the fact is that there is a focused campaign aimed at LFC due to mainly, in my opinion, Kenny’s brusque style with the football media. As he’s not Fergie or the Special One he is supposed to be reverential to the self styled “journalists” that are now constantly airing their views on Sky. Yes Patrick Collins, Oliver Holt et al. Powar should be held to account with the same moral yard stick that he used to beat Suarez, LFC & it’s supporters with. Unfortunately it won’t even make print, where’s Patrice Evra when you need him eh?

  • Michael

    Are we going to point fingers or are we going to do some soul searching! Even if Powar’s comments were racist, throwing mud at him will not solve anything! The most important issue is that many Football loving fans have been hurt by the whole racist saga in England; whether the accusations made were true or false. Uniting to protect the image of English football should be one of our top priorities.

    • Strange reading your comments in comparison to what you said under another article Michael, the one where you spoke about the Suarez case, saying: “this tragedy generally shows that the English are no better than other countries that are known to openly discriminate!” One minute we’re to accept the Suarez verdict irrespective of how weak we feel the case against him might be – the next you’re telling us to ignore comments that have caused offence to a great number of people and for which the evidence is there for all to see without any need to rely on an imaginary version of what might have happened.

  • Another Joe

    I want to know what’s behind Powar’s reluctance to pass comment on the Manc fan arrest.

    If he has a good reason to treat this incident differently to previous ones, why not be transparent about it?

    If his silence aroused suspicions that there are more sinister motives at play, this latest episode only confirms them.

  • Rob

    Hi Jim,

    See… . Last week i told our readers on this site that this whole Suarez saga will go as per the wheel of karma. If Suarez was wrongly accused, the truth will come out by itself… .

    Last week Evra lost it and gave pool the winner. Fergie was sick and could not understand how he lost. This week Piara lost it and even blocked his twitter account.

    Let’s wait for next week, maybe the FA will lose it. As we know between Fabio and the FA, it’s not so rosy these days.

  • Patrick

    Surely the thing to do here, is for Singh to make a complaint to the Police and pass on the evidence?

    There are laws available, and there appears to be evidence, so let due process take over.

    At least Powar will get a fairer hearing than Luis Suarez …

  • Leon

    Racist or not, this guy is a wank. Branding the entire population of LFC fans racist, and deeming any effort of reasoning to be supportive of racism is an absolute disgrace. It is a disgrace for someone in his position to respond so rudely to a message from a fan that is sarcastic at most.

  • RObert Malin

    It’s a shame Powar is occupying such an influential role @ FARE. Same rules for all. It’s a disgraceful comment. Now, if we follow Powar’s example, we must question ourselves whether the whole of FARE is racist as well, like the whole set-up of Liverpool FC was questioned by the same Powar. To me, it’s dangerous that the wrong man, Powar, is given incredible power by FARE. Powar is a disgrace for FARE.

  • Loveen Ross

    Great article – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I asked Piara what he actually does 10 years ago and I’m still waiting for an answer! Why has someone like this been allowed to stay in a position of power? His associations with Kick it Out need to be reviewed as does his position at FARE as he is damaging the credibility of these campaigns. It has been known within the grassroots community for a number of years that he does not represent our views and voice and therefore does not have our support.

  • Billy

    I’m not surprised, but I really find it unbelievable that this story has not been taken up by the national press and Sky.

    Both were really bleating on about the racism issue in the Luis / Evra story, but them none of them took up the question of guilt issue, so that’s why I’m not surprised.

    LFC for some reason, can’t get a fair shake of national press at the moment, I’m very shocked that Stevie’s name is being mentioned in the same sentence as the England Captains job. (Also if I was Stevie, I’d tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.)

    Suggest all LFC fans put the link to this page on Twitter and Facebook and get the message out that way, send it to people you follow anything to get this out.

    If the authorities really want to stamp out racism, it must be a 2 way street and the fact that non-whites and make comments too. (I really don’t want to start anything off, but it had to be said)

  • CJC

    jIM: You are a revelation and inspiration to LFC

  • Helpful Friend

    Jim, Jeremy Hunt is Sport Minister. He can be contacted here – enquiries@culture.gsi.gov.uk – may I suggest anyone interested in this matter sends an email addressed to Mr Hunt asking whether he or his department has any contact with FARE or Mr Powar, and whether any public monies are used in support of him and his organisation? Then ask the minister if he thinks Mr Powar is a suitable person to be heading an anti-racism drive, and ask him to make a statement saying that Mr Powar will never be in receipt of any direct or indirect taxpayer’s money, and Mr Hunt will not share any platform with him in the future.

    As always, hitting them where it hurts means finding the money…

  • Chris G

    The term ‘coconut’ is entirely racist, although strangely, in his responses, Powar seems oblivious of this. It is racist because it clearly suggests that there is something questionable – or even racially treacherous – about a black person harbouring ‘white’ sensibilities. If a member of the BNP accused me of being black on the inside I don’t think that there would be much doubt that he was being deliberately, racially offensive.

  • CJC

    Jim: Shame to Hansen, Lawrenson, and Brian Read who have sports columns and
    have never had the balls to print anything other than a apologetic excuse on behalf
    of why LFC had to defend Luis Suarez but maybe got it wrong . Our great club has been
    castigated and maligned by the British Press and others like Powar ex footballers all and sundry and them three shits have sat in silence. Even if they believed the case against Suarez was true there have been stories that should have been defended for
    example Bob Wilson that Shanks and Bob Paisley along with Joe Fagan would not be
    happy with the way LFC have dealt with this. Any one of those 3 could have and should have told Wilson to shut his mouth in their column Shanks, Bob, and Joe on many occasions quoted that ” LFC was like being in a big family you look after one and other, its a fantastic feeling ” Wilson should have been told just how wrong he was.
    With the video evidence showing Evra mother f..king n…..s and the other vid showing that no contact was made between Luis and Liar (dirty diver evra) and begs the question why would Billy Liar pursue Luis to ask about something that never happened and use a opening gambit of F..K your sisters C..T or P…Y Evras intention was to provoke Luis to do something stupid to get him off the pitch when that did not work he played the race card I know you are a cold facts man Jim but it will come out maybe Evra received instruction when he went down clutching his knee. Evra like the cult tv show ” The X Files the truth is out there ” it will come out and it will get you be sure of that…. Jim you are a credit to this great club keep up the good fight you by the way deserve to be called a journalist as you investigate and back up your articles with facts the mistake I made in this reply was to call below average sports writers the British Press.

  • PB

    Although I’m not in a position to comment on Powar in general – a Black/Asian person calling another a ‘Coconut’ is NOT a racist comment. For one, ‘racism’ is the treatment of a member of one race against another. Not possible when you are both of the same race. Secondly, the term ‘Coconut’ is not a racial reference. ie There isn’t a race or nation of ‘Coconut’ peoples.

    What it definitely is, is an offensive comment. But is an insult of someone’s character, not their race.

    So by all means go for Powar if that’s what you want to do; but make sure the charge is the correct one of causing offence/insulting behaviour etc and NOT racism…

    • graham

      a little hair splitting here i think

    • “PB” – you’re entitled to your opinion but I feel it’s important to point out that a lot of people disagree with you. “Coconut” is slang and is used to refer to two different colours of skin – the colour on the inside and outside of the coconut.

      It doesn’t take much imagination to think up examples of words used to describe skin colour that aren’t the same word as a race of ‘that word’ people.

      If “Coconut” refers to two skin colours, as it does if used in that way referred to above by the politician, it’s hard to see how it can be used without being racist – Powar isn’t a member of both the races the term refers to.

      As someone else says – you’re splitting hairs.

      • Chay

        It may not be a “racist” comment but it’s racially insensitive and it implicitly makes a “racial reference”. It certainly does not befit someone entrusted with heading an organization such as FARE. Plain and simp.

    • Your argument is absolute twoddle. Under current British and European Law people such as Gypsies and Irish Travellers are ruled to have distinct racial identities, I.e., they are Races. As such, therefore, they can be subject to racial abuse under the law. Correct me if I am wrong, but if a White Englishman insults a traveller, and mentions his nationality or way of life in a derogatory manner, then he risks being prosecuted.

      Indians and Pakistanis have been racially abusing each other ever since they achieved independence in 1947 and that’s the least of the crimes committed ( Mumbai?).

  • Reddish

    Look at what man u players r doing these days.. Falling at e slightest contact in e box n refs r buying it: 4 penalties in 2 games.. Is it a premier league record? Another record for keeps..
    On tat anti racism fella Power (pun intended), he’s really a nobody until his comments on Suarez.. Another nobody seeking a free ride for publicity.. Anyone knows any notable achievements of his apart from Suarez? Knew he was in for free publicity when he slammed LFC for standing by Suarez.. Power, a qn for u: if a family member is accused of racism w no evidence, would u dump him/her just bcos he was accused? More Common sense less Power pls.. Thanks..

  • PB

    No Jim. The term ‘Coconut’ is used to describe the ‘behaviour’ of someone. If a Black person called another Black person a ‘coconut’ he is saying that that Black person ‘acts’ like a White person.

    This is certainly an insult and derogotary but it is NOT racist.

    Again, Black people can NOT be racist towards each other – They are the same race.

    • Gord

      Isn’t saying you’re acting like a white person racist racist towards white people?

      He’s basically implying that it is inferior behaviour to act like a white person, which is racist. I don’t know about Piara’s ethnicity but the subject of his rant is not black. He is of indian origin. Also black people can be racist to each other.

    • Another Joe

      I’m pretty sure this is still just your opinion PB.

      There’s a precedent for this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10440371

      And opinion seems to be split on whether “coconut” is racist or not: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2010/06/_in_bristol_a_black.html

      At the very least, it warrants further investigation especially as the alleged offence was committed by the head of a race relations organisation.

    • lima

      Can a mixed race person be racist towards a black person! Can someone explain the rules to me, or is hatred just hatred.

    • gram

      have you ever seen (or heard) black people of different origins (yes different origins – countries, tribes whatever) arguing ? don’t anybody tell me that black people cannot be racist against each other – just as white people can be racist against each other too

    • der Retter

      PB you are talking nonsense. Black people can be racist towards other Black people. Racism is a form of prejudice and discrimination, which can be perpetrated by anybody and suffered by anybody.

      I am of mixed race and was always disappointed by what I always considered Black American racism towards other Black people based on skin colour (yes. skin colour) and heritage.

      I don’t know what race you are, but if you’re not Black or of mixed Black race, then I’d appreciate it if you stop making generalisations about cultures you do not understand. If you are Black or of mixed race, the same still applies.

    • PGJMatthews

      This is part of the problem. People don’t understand what racism is. Racism is discriminating against someone because of their race. They don’t have to be a different race to the person doing the discriminating. If for example a black employer refused to employ someone because they were black, that’s discriminating by race and therefore racist.

    • For crying out loud Race is NOT just about the coluor of a person’s skin. It is much broader than that. Perhaps you would like to reassure Black Nigerian Christians that they are best mates with Black Nigerian Muslims.
      I am old enough to remember the Biafran civil war( Nigeria ) when Biafrans ( a separate Race ) had Nigerian citizenship imposed upon them.

  • John

    PB is mistaken. The term coconut is typically used by one person of colour to denigrate another for their ‘betrayal’ by espousing puportedly ‘white’ values and as Jim has already pointed out, has already been determined a racist term by case law.

    Equally, black people are perfectly capable of being racist towards one another – look at the enslavement of pygmy peoples of Cameroon, the genocidal conflict between Hutus and Tsutsis and the roles of competing tribes in the slave trade etc.

  • jimbo

    People, FARE claims to have received £ millions from EU FIFA UEFA etc.
    Where is it all going ?
    FARE aren’t visible on either the Register of Companies not Charities Commission ?
    So who has received what ?
    And where are the accounts proving that monies are being distributed ?
    Who has received what ?
    This is well-dodgy !!!!

  • Any “insult” that uses race/multiple races to bring the point is racist. For him to try and say otherwise because he is the same ethnic origin, religion etc. doesn’t mean anything. I was moderately insulted that I, as a white man somehow through my dna, have differing opinions to someone who is of Asian dissent. It kind of goes against the message that FARE should be bringing forward.

    It potrays a vision of “us vs them” when anyone who doesn’t agree with him is harbouring a white opinion. How can you potray a message of equality yet make a comment basically calling someone a traiter to their race because he doesn’t share his opinion.

  • John

    Irrelevant though it is, for clarification, although I’m not privy to how they identify themselves, the two parties don’t appear to be the same race.

  • PB

    John, i am far from mistaken. As you yourself have confirmed, the term is used to denigrate or insult someone’s ‘behaviour’. It is NOT a term used to denigrate or insult that person’s race…

    Black are not capable of being racist towards one another because they are the same RACE…Simple.

    Yes, Black people are capable of war and conflict just like any other race. But those conflicts are not RACIST. They are usually tribal in nature and more likely have their roots in territory or belief system…Were the Germans being racist when they invaded France?

    Again, Black people can be malicious, spiteful, insulting, derogotary, vindictive and any number of offensive things to each other. But they can’t be racist. They are of the same race…

    What probably is a debating point is what White people view as racist and what Black people do.

    Ask a 100 Black people if they think ‘coconut’ is a racist term and ‘m sure most would say no. I have a feeling most White people would say yes…

    Maybe that’s a ‘grey’ area (pardon the pun :o) that needs looking at…

    • Gord

      The 2 people involved in this case do not belong to the same race so the term ‘coconut’ can be deemed racist. The subject is Sikh and Powar is not.

      PB has been implying that this incident is not racist because black people cannot be racist to each other. Well as is quite clear, they are not black or of the same race.

    • Helpful Friend

      Always helps to know what you are talking about…..

      from the CPS website:

      ‘Racially aggravated offences are offences where the offender shows or is driven by racial hostility. They are offences where:

      At the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates hostility towards the victim based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group; ‘

      Referring to a person’s skin colour, even by the metaphor of ‘coconut’ plainly falls into this category, and so is a racially aggravated offence. You will note there is no definition in law that the offender and victim must be of differing racial groups.

      Oh….and it’s already been decided in law – ‘A black councillor has been found guilty of racial harassment after describing an Asian political opponent as “a coconut” during a heated debate today.’ from the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/28/councillor-court-coconut-jibe-bristol

      Two minorities, and the accused found guilty.

      So PB, you are talking through your….hat.

  • John

    I would have to ask why cant a person insult another person with the same skin colour?
    They might both be the same colour but speak a different language or from a different country or from mixed race parents,couldnt this be considered racism?
    Anton Ferdinand is from mixed race parents and John Terry is being tried in court for racially abusing him despite having at least one same colour parent.

    PB,if you are saying Powar is only guilty of using insulting behaviour then the exact same situation applies to the Suarez case too,despite the likes of Powar ignoring that fact too.

  • John

    PB: It only applies to people of colour, ergo it’s racist and the courts agree. As for your claim that among 100 black people most wouldn’t regard it as racist, that’s opinion masquerading as fact – it’s right up there with Uncle Tom.

  • Another Joe

    Wonder if Powar will dare to chime in about Kenny’s comments tonight.

  • PB

    John, the law and the courts also agree that if someone breaks into your house you’re only allowed to use ‘reasonable’ force to deter any criminality from them. In the ‘real world’ this doesn’t work as who decides what’s ‘reasonable’? But the law needs to have ‘something’ in place to deal with such incidents…
    But the point I am making is that when one Black person call another a coconut, the accusation is regarding that persons ‘behaviour’. Both people are of African/Black race, so there isn’t a case of the African/Black race being insulted. It is a ‘character’ assessment. And NO it also doesn’t mean that the accuser hates White people either. Just like if a man accuses another of acting like a woman, it doesn’t make that man a woman-hater….

    Gord, Sikhism is a religion, not a race of people. Singh and Powar are both Asian though…

    • Out of interest PB, do you think Powar’s comments were acceptable from someone who is currently the head of a European anti-racism organisation and got that role having spent a number of years as the spokesperson for a UK anti-discrimination organisation?

      Under the FA’s regulations, had the same comment been made on a pitch between two different players, and had there been undeniable proof of it, the one making the comment would have been up on the same charge that Suarez was. 1) Insulting/abusive words 2) with reference to race, colour, religion, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

      The ‘coconut’ jibe refers to colour, of course,

    • Gord

      PB they are both not black. There are over a dozen different races from India. I suggest you learn a bit about ethnic minorities before you make ill advised comments. The FACT is they are both not of the same race so your whole argument doesn’t stand up.

    • So Based on your point it is not possible for people of the same race or colour to racially abuse each other. Please try telling that to the survivors of the Holocaust. It must have been a figment of their imagination when White German Jews were initially racially abused by the Nazis. We all know now that it went much further than that.

      The German Jews may have been White like their Nazi neighbours but they were not Aryans you see. Of course it is possible for people of the same colour to racially abuse each other, it’s been happening for centuries. And while there are clueless idiots like Mr. Powar

  • PB

    Gord, I suggest you learn the difference between ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’.

    Sikhs are an ethnic group as are Hindu’s (based on religion). Both are Asian by race.

    So, in this case, it appears that 2 Asians are involved; therefore Powar telling Singh to not be a ‘coconut’ is NOT racist, though it is an offensive and insulting retort…

    This is not a defence of Powar. I agree that someone in his position shouldn’t be insulting members of the public anyway. This is just to show the difference between what is or isn’t racist .

    By design or defaut, the issue of racism is being overhyped almost to the point where it gets so confused as to be a non-issue.

    Racism is a pretty straight-forward issue, especially to those on the receiving end of it…

    • What does the ‘coconut’ jibe say about white people PB? What does it say about Powar’s view of white people?

    • der Retter


      The terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are both social constructs and both have a degree of overlap.

      The only thing that is certain is that neither can be nor has been defintively defined. There only exists definitionS of these two terms.

  • Gord

    race2 ? ?[reys] Show IPA
    a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
    a population so related.

    I’m Sikh so I believe I know more than you when I say this PB. Sikh is a religion but majority of Sikh’s are Punjabi, which is a race. Powar is a Maharastran name. We do not share common descent or heredity with them hence we cannot be the same race. We are both of Indian origin but NOT the same race.

    Would you consider Chinese to be Asian….because that is the continent of origin. If so are you suggesting that Indians and Chinese are the same race? If you class Chinese as Oriental….Koreans, Japanese, Thai, etc are also classed as Oriental and they are definitely not the same race.

    I suggest you take some advice from yourself and learn the difference.

  • Pingback: Liverpool fan claims racist abuse from Piara Powar

  • PB

    Gord, you say that you share no common descent or heredity but then say you both have Indian origins – so again I would suggest that both are Asian.

    Punjabi’s are an ethnic group, not a race of peoples. Again, please understand the difference

    The Chinese are…Chinese. Personally, I would see them as more Oriental (along with japanese, Koreans etc) than Asian but there are probably arguments for both.

    And for the record, I am Black, so think I know a tad bit more about the term ‘coconut’ and it’s usage amongst Black people…

    Jim, the coconut jibe says nothing ‘about’ White people and doesn’t mean that that person is anti-white. It’s a personal insult about that individual not ‘acting’ like a Black person (or Asian in Powar’s case).

    As I said before, if you accused another male of acting like a woman, it doesnt mean you hate women. Your insult is to suggest he is not behaving like a man. Simple as that…

    • b8hov3n

      PB, you keep saying a man calling another man a woman does not make him a woman hater. But this would be a sexist comment. If this was said to a homosexual man, it would most likely be seen as a homophobic comment.
      Therefore, by using your own comparison, the coconut comment is a racist comment, used to make the other person feel inferior.

  • Gord

    PB I strongly recommend you read the history of the different people of India. I have a passport which lists my race as Punjabi. Are you suggesting that the Indian government has no concept of race?

    Race is used to denote people that share genetic traits. Whereas ethnic group denotes people who have common cultural, behavioural, linguistic, ritualistic, or religious traits.

    Punjabis and Maharastrans do not share common genetic traits hence we are a different race.

  • james

    at the very least, this Powar guy doesn’t seem to be the most charming or balanced of individuals. His views seem just short of hatefilled themselves and quite aggressive. For the job he’s in, think it would be better conducted by a individual who isn’t quite so antaganistic and can put his point across in a professional manner befitting his high reponsibility and position

  • Phil

    To call Powar a racist, while satisfying in some regard, allows him the option to use his ethnicity to deny the charge. His real “crime” is rank hypocrisy and that is unacceptable in the head of such an organisation.

    Powar has effectively said that all non white people should applaud the Suarez verdict and any that hold the opinion that transparent justice trumps an accusation of racist behaviour are to some degree “race traitors” That should cost him his position regardless of whether “coconut” is explicitly a racist term.

    His comments don’t need to be racist to be offensive (though they rely on racial identity for their sting) as his position requires clear thinking not lazy insults because someone challenges him. He has shown himself to be a bit of an idiot and having him in charge does not reflect well on FARE. If there was an intelligent press in this country he would be forced to explain these remarks and what they say about his suitability for his job.

    PB I would argue that implicit in saying a man is behaving like a woman is a judgment that it is in some way inferior. It may not infer hate but it doesn’t indicate respect as an equal. Whatever behaviour is being denigrated does not require a comparison to a stereotype to be highlighted. Its the same impulse that is behind racism. i.e a man who is emotional and losing it can be told to stop “acting like a woman” when in fact he is acting like the thousands of men who get emotional and lose it and unlike thousands of women who keep their shit together whatever the circumstance. Its short hand, same way that whatever stereotypes that you face as a black man keep their currency.

  • PB

    Gord, this isn’t an anthropology class but it shouldn’t be that hard to realise that neither the Punjabi or the Maharastrans are races of people. As you’ve (maybe inadvertently) stated they are both ethnic groups of India. Genetically you may be different but that isn’t to say that either of you are NOT Asian…

    Racists rarely, if ever, care about the genetics. And this is what I mean about ‘real world’. Genetically, you may be different from Maharastrans but do you think a racist would know or even care about that difference?

    Anyway, we digress. This thread is about remarks that have been considered racist. I’ve just given my opinions and the reasoning behind why I maintain they were not…

  • Gord

    PB, Asian is not a race…..I find it offensive that you can even suggest that, there are a multitude of different races which live all over Asia. Your argument is that what was said cannot be racist as they are the same race. By the dictionary definition of the word, I have pointed out to you that they are not the same race.

    Please just google races of India, read some articles and educate yourself.

  • Parmjit

    I personally didn’t find powars “don’t be a coconut” jibe racist, however the context in which it was used towards me was insulting. I believe by calling me a coconut he is accusing me of betraying my ethnic and cultural roots for questioning why he hasn’t commented on alleged racial abuse by a man united fan towards black players from stoke city. It is my opinion that he feels i am a coconut because i am Liverpool Fc fan and because i supported Suarez in the allegation made by Evra. I think Mr Powar is a hypocrite and his position in FARE has gone to his head. I feel that he used the Suarez / Evra incident to get his 15 minutes of fame.


    How can calling someone a coconut be racist. I’ve not used the expression but isnt it just a derivative of calling someone a nutter which you might say to someone of any race colour or creed with even thinking of ethnicity

  • @Riaz1982

    Racial abuse is any insult or abuse that refers to skin, ethnicity or origin.

    The word “coconut” is an insult. Its an insult that refers to skin colour. Therefore can be seen as a racist insult.

    I am penning a letter to FARE, and others, at the moment . Personally, I have found the use of the word very insulting, especially from someone who is representing an anti-racist organisation.

    I am Asian, my wife is white. We have mixed race children. I have had the term thrown at me by whites and asians in the same way I have had the word “paki” used towards me.

    I am even more outraged on behalf of my children. Are my children “coconuts” to this person. Its a disgusting term to use.

    I’ll be seeking an appology. He needs to understand why I am so disgusted and outraged and also come to the understanding that such terms are unacceptable.

  • John



      So where does the term coconut derive its racist bias from. I’ve heard people called a lemon, a nut, a melon, a (ba)nana, a cabbage etc but none have racial undertones…am I really am missing something

  • John

    It would be great if just for once people didn’t trivialise racism. It isn’t about political correctness or discrimination or name-calling. It is about people being singled out on the basis of the colour of their skin, their ethnicity, nationality etc and for those reasons alone being abused, beaten up and murdered.

  • John

    Like Jim, I welcome Parmjit’s view. However, as the term can only be used against a person of colour – nobody ever calls a white person a coconut – it must surely be racist?

  • @Riaz1982


    “Coconut” is used as an insult. Its intended meaning is brown on the outside, white on the inside”
    “Milky Way” as in the chocolate is used in the same manner.

    It is a racist insult for the following.

    a) it is used to insult people of different skin colour to say they are losing touch of their skin colour, culture, identity.
    b) its an insult to people of white skin colour as it is implied that being white is derogatory
    c) it is used to insult mixed asian/white people. (see my earlier post)

    Any insult which references skin colour is a racial insult. Its the same way “black c**t” is racist and the way words like nigger and paki are regarded as derogatory racist words.


      Gotcha, thanks mate. I understand now. If he knew what it means its inexcusable, If he didnt know what it means, it’s also inexcusable – he should – its his job.

      Its understandable I’ve not heard it before, I run a toyshop. I’m not a anti-racism professional

  • PB

    Gord, no race is ‘pure’ , we all have a mixture of something in us. As you suggested, I had a google search and found generally that Punjabi’s are referred to as an ethnic group from the Punjab regions of India/Pakistan… Anyway, that’s by the by…

    What I’d like you to confirm is that Parmjit and Powar can NOT be described as Asian.

    Also, maybe you could shed some light on why the person in question (Parmjit) actually disagrees with your assertion that Powar’s comments were ‘racist’ but actually agrees with me that they were NOT racist but undoubtedly offensive…

    Maybe you yourself require a bit more self-education than you realise…

    • I have just been on another site where I was informed that the use of the ‘f’ word is ‘neither here nor there’ when prefacing the word black. Referring to the colour of someone’s skin is a racial insult but, apparently, saying ‘f***ing’ black does not make the insult any worse. Pardon me? Perhaps that’s why Evra was not charged with his liberal use of the ‘f’ word on the football pitch. There you go lads if you are playing this weekend, you can ‘f’ and ‘blind’ to your heart’s content provided that you do not mention skin colour!
      Back to PB. I take your point about Races not being pure. Take Uruguay, for example. I assume that Uruguyans are a blend of Hispanic, African and the original Native population.(I.e. South American Indian ). I hope that nobody takes offence at the use of the word blend-I could not think of anything better.
      One of my great-grandfathers came over from Dublin in the mid 1850s ( potato famine? ). Am I of mixed race? Celtic and Anglo Saxon? I could have Norman blood in me. Pardonez moi? I’ll get back to my Ovaltine.

    • PB – I’ve had numerous comments (on here, on Twitter, in private) from Asian reds who tell me that they feel the use of ‘coconut’ is racist.

  • PB

    Jim, I appreciate that and I’m sure you have. But the person himself at the brunt of the undeniable insult has himself said he didn’t receive that as a racist insult.

    Maybe Asians use and perceive the term differently to Black people (tho I doubt it).

    As I keep saying, the comment is a slur on the person’s character. Think about it; If the term is racist and 2 Black/Asian people are involved in the argument; which of the two participants race is being insulted? In this scenario you can’t insult the other persons race without insulting your own…As you are both of the same race…

    Jim, take from me. As a rule of thumb, racial comments between same-race people are NOT racist. There are exception to every rule, admittedly, but the term ‘coconut’ isn’t one of them….

    • To be honest PB, it’s a topic that gets argued about a lot and I think the arguments nearly always tend to miss the point. In this case I think the argument misses the point all the more because of the context of the comments. If a white player went to another white player who’d just done something he thought was wrong and quietly said “Stop acting like a black man” would that not be racist?

      Before we even heard exactly what was supposed to have happened people were saying it was impossible for Suarez to use the Spanish word for “black” on a football field without it being racially abusive. When the verdict was announced, but before the written reasons came out, one gutter headline branded Suarez “racist”. Powar practically branded the whole of Liverpool’s fan base as racist when he commented on the incident at the Oldham match, before he knew what had been said and (as is still the case I believe) before anyone had been charged.

      Insulting someone else and making any kind of reference to colour to do so is frowned upon in the UK and Powar knows this. Whatever we want to call it, it was wrong and it’s time he stepped down or FARE was disbanded.

  • Sorry, PB, but how much hair splitting do you want to do? Based on your contention that all Asians are of the same Race, then all Europeans must be of the same Race. By extension The English and Irish can be similarly described. You may find the Irish, in general, arguing with that one. Celtic and proud of it they might say, and why not?
    Anyway there is a precedence in law. Some years ago a lecturer working in England was awarded £30,000 by a tribunal because his colleagues referred to him as an “Irish prat”. The key word here is Irish’. Had they stuck to just calling him a ‘prat’ there would have been little problem, apart from the obvious hurt to him, but because they prefaced the insult with ‘Irish’ the insult became ‘racist in nature’. Hence the award.

  • PB

    Charlie B, I hear what you are saying but the Irish are not a race of people. They are a Nation of people (and no doubt a proud Nation at that). But yes, Europeans generally tend to be Caucasian by ‘race’. There are many subsets of ethnicity under that and I think this is where the confusion lies.

    Your example is of an insult toward Irish people/nation, not of the Caucasian ‘race’. And from what I understand insulting someone’s Nationality/ethnicity can also be deemed as ‘racist’ (obviously by courts too).

    But in this case, there isn’t a race or nation of ‘coconuts’. Even if you understand that a ‘coconut’ is a term for a Black person who is perceived to act more like a White person; there isn’t a race, nation or ethnic group of people like this. There just isn’t.

    And further to that, it also isn’t a slur on White people as the comment isn’t ‘about’ White people. It’s about the perceived behaviour of the person being accused.

    And again, the best way to understand this is that it is the same as a man accusing another man of acting like a woman. This doesn’t mean the accuser dislikes women; in fact the comment isn’t even ‘about’ women. What it is, is a way of personally insulting the person they are arguing with…

    What is hard, is for people who don’t experience racism, and are unlikely to, to understand a subject which often has historical, traditional or cultural nuances that are hard to grasp.

    But in my opinion (and that of the ‘victim’ Parmjit in this case), Powars behaviour was definitely offensive but NOT racist…

    • PB, you put forward a powerful argument, but please let’s apply a little common sense here. Try explaining the differences between Race and Ethnicity to the aggressive hate filled yob on the street as he is about to beat the crap out of someone whom he resents being in this country.
      Correct me if I am wrong; I have heard or read about racist behaviour, but never ethnicisist behaviour. To the vast majority of ordinary people like me there is no difference between insulting a person’s race or ethnicity. They are both unacceptable.
      I will not have Piara Power squirming out of this on the basis of fine lines, I.e., nuances between Race and Ethnicity.

  • PB

    Jim, if one white player told another white player to stop acting like a black man, I would not class that as racist. Why? Because neither of them are Black…

    The accuser isn’t putting down that person because of their ‘race’. He’s putting him down because of his perceived ‘behaviour’…

    Jim, I’m not sure how often you’ve been the victim of racism but it’s not something that can be applied equally across the board of all races.

    Non-Whites will most likely have experienced it in their lifetimes, whereas a lot of white people would not.

    Not wishing to open another can of worms but it could actually be argued that, for example, Black people aren’t actually capable of ‘racism’ towards White people as they don’t have the power to.

    White people’s racist behaviour towards Black people has traditionally stemmed from a belief of racial supremacy. A belief that is still held by many…

    Black people’s racist behaviour is mainly based on a dislike of White people much like how you’d dislike a school bully.

    What would probably be helpful would be open, honest dialogue between us all to try and iron out our differences.

  • Larry

    “Jim, if one white player told another white player to stop acting like a black man, I would not class that as racist. Why? Because neither of them are Black…”

    Wow…..I would say that although it is not racist towards the person it is directed to, it is an extremely racist statement as it implies the black race is inferior.

    The idea that black people cannot be racist towards whites really needs no commenting on as it is so ludicrous.

  • Zahid

    Quite ironic this tool calling someone a coconut, when hes probably licked so many white ass to get where he is today, in a powerfull position.

    If anyone is offended by this comment i do appologise, im just making a point.

  • Zahid

    All humans can be racist FACT!! no matter what colour, race, culture, creed etc

    It’s just alot of people including the media n politicians that make it out like people of different colours or race other then White cnt be racist, thats why they invent such stupid things like this whole PC agenda.

  • David

    Powar is a disgrace.
    He should be forced to publicly apologise for his comments and probably be made step aside.
    He is an unsuitable spokesperson for any anti-racism group.
    I wrote an email to info@farenet.org earlier in the week and plan to post a copy this evening.
    Perhaps if enough do likewise, FARE might do something about it.

  • Footimad

    I have brought this to the attention of the Ministry for Justice, as the sports secretary Mr Hunt has washed his hands of this matter, and said it is not his department when the head of FARE uses racist abuse against a football fan.

    You too can bring this to the attention of the MoJ by emailing a link to this webpage and voicing your concern that the head of FARE is a racist