Wigan chairman Dave Whelan (above, right) has been hit with a 6 week ban and a £50,000 fine after the England F.A. determined he was not misquoted with his recent published comments about Jews and Chinese persons. Along with pointing out the sum of the fine is a mere drop in the bucket for a man of Whelan’s wealth, The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor argues, “the FA is not going to place Whelan on a round-the-clock watch and a punishment of this nature is utterly unenforceable.”
Are we seriously to believe he will not even be consulted if Wigan buy or sell someone in the January transfer window? Is he meant to press the reject button every time the number of a football contact flashes on his phone? (answer: yes). Will he find out about important club business via their website and fan message-boards? Wigan are a good club who until recently prided themselves on doing things the right way. They might just have to forgive the rest of us for being skeptical about how this ban actually works.
What is certain is that Whelan has given a lot of thought to his own position since the offending interview in these pages on 21 November, when he stated among other things that it was “nothing” to call a Chinese person a “chink” and that “Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else”.
His age is no excuse but, at 78, it does bring a small element of sympathy, perhaps, if only because a lot of us probably know others of that generation who might talk themselves into trouble without necessarily realising how bad it sounds outside their comfort zone.