Ex-England international footballer and broadcaster Stan Collymore has admonished billionaire British Lord, Sir Alan Sugar, for a tweet comparing the Senegalese World Cup team to immigrant street traders.
Special RT Russia 2018 host Collymore told the channel that he was “disgusted, upset, but not surprised” by the tweet and its reception in the UK. Sugar later deleted the tweet and offered an apology that seemed less than sincere.
In a tweet now deleted, Sugar posted a doctored picture of the Senegal lineup with the caption: “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi-tasking resourceful chaps,” in a reference to immigrant beach-traders operating on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The tweet received a huge backlash, and Sugar later removed the tweet under pressure from Twitter users, including several respected figures on social media.
On the subject of racism and the concern for its prevalence in Russia by the Western press, Collymore said: “Britons need to look a lot closer to home. And this is the very apex, let’s not forget, of British society; this is a lord - he is a Jewish lord.
“If this was a black Briton, that would have tweeted something similar about the Israeli national football team, he would be fired, and he would certainly potentially be arrested.
“But I feel that a lot of racism that goes on in my country at the moment, that the deletion of the tweet, a mealy-mouthed apology, will be enough for Lord Sugar to keep his job on 'The Apprentice' on the BBC and maybe make another faux-pas in months to come.”
As I said. Ingrained in every level of British society. pic.twitter.com/0XeuTElbzw— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) June 20, 2018
Although Lord Sugar, who served nine years as chairman of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, did delete the tweet and offered a half-hearted apology, the peer admitted in a follow-up post that he still found his comparison “funny”.
Collymore dismissed his comments with the swift retort: “well it’s not funny, it’s racism” and labeled Lord Sugar’s “outing” of racism as a sign of the “toxic nature of British politics at the moment”.
“He needs to come out and make an apology,” Collymore said, before directly challenging the BBC, where Sugar currently hosts hit UK version of the TV series ‘The Apprentice’, in which hopeful young professionals battle it out for a contract with Sugar’s Amstrad company.
“And I put this challenge to the BBC: are you going to keep Alan Sugar as the host of The Apprentice? Do you think allying elite level athletes from an African country to beach sellers is anything other than racism? And if it is racism, he has no place on British television,” he added.
Despite his condemnation, Collymore claimed he felt there would be “zero” chance of Sugar being relieved of his role at the BBC as host of hit show The Apprentice, because of the “high profile” enjoyed by the tycoon, likening him to US president Donald Trump.
“Absolutely zero,” Collymore said. “It’s the same with Trump in the United States: if you are big box office, if you have a large Twitter following, the way that broadcasters quite look at it is, what’s there to lose? And what is there to gain?
“They would have to look for a new presenter, he is very high profile, it’s been a success in the UK, the UK version of 'The Apprentice'. He can say it was an error of judgment, but all it does, and I have to say this to all the people around the world watching: It perpetuates the myth of blacks being less than; less than white, less than this, less than that.”
Collymore was also critical of what he viewed hypocrisy by Sugar, who has been vocal on issues of anti-Semitism in the Labour party and his role as a liberal voice in Britain, calling for further pressure to be put on Sugar's actions by sections of the media, and that the consequence should be removal from his role as 'The Apprentice' going forward.