No Room For Racism

Coker: Online abusers are cowards

By Daniel Sandford 13 Feb 2023
Ade Coker, West Ham

Ex-West Ham forward says there still remains room for improvement in the fight against racism

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The racist abuse Ade Coker received during his time as a footballer was often different to the kind experienced by current Premier League players, but the issue is the same.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is the latest victim of online discrimination after his match against Arsenal on Saturday, and Coker has said those who offend behind a screen are nothing but "cowards".

“Racism back then, to what it is now…back then, people would say it to your face," he told West Ham United’s official website. "Nowadays, racists hide behind their phones and computers and tweet out certain things about other people. The only thing I can call those people is ‘cowards’. 

Born in Nigeria, Coker made his debut with West Ham in 1971 after graduating through their academy. During his four seasons with the Hammers he was a pioneer, along with team-mates Clyde Best and Clive Charles, for black players of that era.

Coker has highlighted the importance of the Premier League's No Room for Racism campaign and the improvements that have been made since his playing days, but he knows there is plenty more to do to tackle discrimination in the game.

“Things can still be better,” he said. “From what it was to what it is now though, I’m so glad that the media looks to bring awareness around racism to the public.

Ade Coker
Ade Coker looks on during a match with West Ham in 1971

"The media is showing people what racism is about, and it’s up to us as people to learn and decide whether to be a part of the problem or part of the solution.

“Organisations like the Premier League and people like Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford are leading that campaign of awareness, to make things better. He, and others like him, are to be commended.”

Recounting his time at West Ham, Coker has hailed the club for judging a player solely on ability and never the colour of their skin.

“Ron Greenwood, John Lyall and Bill Lansdowne, what they did for players and for the game will go down in history forever," he said.

“They, at the time, did not see a player’s colour. They saw his talent and they developed his talent. They developed that person as a player and a human being, and gave him a chance on the pitch. They saw the person, not the colour."

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