Newcastle United, Bournemouth & Chelsea stars caught up in racism row after 'jail' comments

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A Newcastle United defender was named in controversial comments during an interview over the weekend.

Newcastle United defender Jamal Lewis has been caught up in a racism row after being named in comments made by former Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber.

The Northern Ireland international joined the Magpies in a £15m move during the summer of 2020 after working his way through the Canaries academy during Webber’s time at Carrow Road. After struggling to make an impact at St James Park, Lewis is currently spending a season-long loan at Championship club Norwich City and there is believed to be an option to convert that move into a permanent switch at the end of the season.

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Lewis’ name was brought up in an interview conducted by Webber as he controversially suggested several black players could have ended up in jail if they had not managed to forge a career in the game with Norwich.

Speaking in an interview with The Pink Un, Webber stated: "We want to help the guys who really need it, not the ones who are maybe privileged. I saw that with our young footballers. Jonny Rowe wouldn't mind me saying it but him, Abu Kamara, Max [Aarons], Jamal [Lewis], Raheem [Sterling] back in the day at Liverpool, where they come from it had to work out for them in football, because the alternative is potentially jail or something else.”

The comments brought an understandably angry and frustrated response from several key figures within the game and from a number of anti-racism campaigners over the last 48 hours as a Kick if Out statement described Webber’s stance as ‘lazy stereotyping’ and accused the former Norwich City man of ‘showing a complete lack of respect’ to the players named and their families.

Ged Grebby, Chief Executive of anti-racism education charity Show Racism the Red Card, added: “We hold sessions on stereotyping and it sounds like Stuart Webber would benefit from attending one of those courses after making these comments.  It is a reminder of the challenge that football faces to eradicate institutional racism from the game on the pitch and in the boardroom.”  Anti-discrimination campaigner Troy Townsend added: “Racially profiling current and former players. Football or jail is it then? Absolute disgrace!”

Lewis will hope to return his focus to on-field matters when Northern Ireland face Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

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