Darren Bent’s mum: an update on the “racial slur” incident


LATEST NEWS (Dec 1):

The media are reporting the arrest of a 26-year-old man from Chester-le-Street on suspicion of racially abusing Mrs Bent. He has been bailed pending further inquiries. No further comments can be accepted on this posting.


More details have emerged about the alleged racial taunt that caused such offence to Darren Bent’s mother, and therefore to her son. However, the reporting of the incident is inconsistent and in serious need of proper clarification …

Salut! Sunderland takes no pleasure in returning to the subject of the alleged racial slur that so outraged Darren Bent.

If a report in today’s Northern Echo is correct, then the location of the incident has moved. But it remains a matter of no less concern to what I am sure is the overwhelming majority of Sunderland fans.

Also, taking this account at face value, we can exclude any suggestion that Darren Bent’s mother misunderstood a fan’s accent or attempt at humour (which was suggested as a possible explanation in a comment posted here after our first report).

This is how the Echo reports it:

The culprit was among a crowd of Sunderland fans in a Wigan pub after the team’s 1-0 defeat over the weekend.

Bent’s mother, Shirley, was nearby as the fan was trying to get served at the bar.

When he did not get served quick enough, it is claimed he shouted at the barmaid: “Don’t treat me like I’m black.”

Mrs Bent berated the fan, telling him she was Darren’s mother and he should not abuse people.

An eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “She gave as good as she got and the police were called.

“She was really upset and let him know what she thought, telling him he was an absolute disgrace and should be ashamed of himself.

“The guy ran off and the man who had been with him refused to reveal his name until the police said they would arrest him instead.”


The report
was slightly confusing on whether the offender had, in fact, been identified by the man with him. There have also been suggestions that the incident happened before, not after the game.

But it shouldn’t be beyond the powers of the police to identify him pretty soon and either haul him before the court or give him a stern caution.

Even though it is now clear that it happened away from the football ground, the effect is the same as if it had been inside the stadium and reflects badly on the good name of Sunderland AFC supporters – as well as being unacceptable and unpleasant in terms of the insult rightly felt by Mrs Bent.

So, subject to the facts being substantiated, this hard-of-thinking “fan” deserves an additional sanction from the club. Maybe a life ban would be harsh; exclusion for the rest of the season would send out the right message and perhaps give the culprit a useful lesson on what it is like to be considered an inferior citizen.

Some issues need to be cleared up, however. It does not now appear to have been the sort of full-on racial taunt, aimed directly at an individual, that initial reports implied.

But itf the Northern Echo report finally gets close to the truth, the remark would still have been deeply offensive to a black person standing anywhere in earshot, more so if the culprit was aware of his or her presence. It would also suggest a racialist outlook unless it really was – to adopt one comment already left here – an attempt to show empathy with black people. A cackhanded attempt, I would say, and even on that incredibly charitable interpretation, one that still requires a serious apology,

I’d like to know how the offender responded to Mrs Bent’s complaint. Did he hold up his hands in horror, saying: “You couldn’t be more wrong. My comment to the bar staff was made to demonstrate that I haven’t a racist bone in my body …”? Or did he stand his ground?

More than that, I’d like to think Shirley Bent would be the best judge of all these issues, including the level of offence taken by her and the appropriate punishment. Maybe someone is feeling so ashamed of himself that he won’t wait to be found but will quickly own up, offer that apology and take what’s coming.


* See also: The Northern Echo Tags: , , ,

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

13 Responses to “Darren Bent’s mum: an update on the “racial slur” incident” Subscribe

  1. graham snell November 30, 2009 at 3:14 am #

    If that is actually what he said, it is rash to call it racist. I am sure it can be characterised as rude and ill considered but racist….? It could equally be construed as empathising with black people and the way society has traditionally treated them. Let us make sure we know the facts, act with reason and not form a pc witch hunt lynching party with the momentum of the mob behind it.

    • Phil P November 30, 2009 at 3:27 am #

      RE: graham snell’s “It could be equally construed as empathising with black people”? Are you high?

      Rude, yes, ill considered, yes, racist, yes also. If the SAFC fan in question had made this comment in 1980 I could just about understand your reply, but in this day and age there’s no excuse for that kind of ignorance. It’s the kind of thoughtless retarded comment you might expect from a BNP voter.

      My sincere hope is that the offending fool is publicly humiliated into realising that his antiquated xenophobic attitude needs a serious 21st century adjustment, and that Darren Bent and his mother don’t hold this one idiot’s views as being representative of SAFC fans in general.

    • Gavin Frater November 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

      Re Graham Snell

      Are you for real?

      Its this kind of incident that sullies the name of all Sunderland fans. Whether its alleged harmless banter or directed at an individual it is never acceptable.

      I hope that the fan is found, and banned from the all future Sunderland games. There is no place for this kind of behaviour in life never mind in football.

  2. salutsunderland November 30, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    I have modified the posting to take account of what I believe to have been generally poor reporting of this incident, and the confusion caused about location and timing. But I would stress that everything that has appeared here has been subject to an assertion that only when the facts have been established should punitive action follow.

    I find Graham’s suggested interpretation difficult to accept; it would have been one of the clumsiest shows of empathy in history and still one that should lead to an apology.

  3. Mackem-Don November 30, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    I cannot believe all the hype about this, what has the guy actually said, as in directly to Bent’s mother ? Nothing it seems was said directly to her.

    Maybe they think this sort of thing doesnt happen down south ? Maybe they should have stopped there.

  4. salutsunderland November 30, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    The misreporting is lamentable, as I’ve said elsewhere, and Darren Bent seems to some extent to be responsible for that, or for not clearing up the confusipn. But if a player who has a household name alleges publicly that his mother was subjected to racial abuse at or around a match, it’s not hype but a proper function of democracy that it should be aired.

  5. mackem 95 November 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    i was there on saturday and right behind what happened. it didn’t take place in a bar, infact the lad walked passed mrs bent and coughed under his breath n****R. shirley bent then turned back and got the police to come and find the supporters who had entered a bar outside the ground. A friend of the man who said it then held up the police not telling them who had said it even though he knew, eventually the police found out and had a serious talk to the offender.

  6. Mackem-Don November 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    We all know that members of the BNP are within our support group so why deny it ? They have been there a long time and wont go away. I suppose its a democracy in which we live. These sort of comments aimed at black players are rife at matches for years.

  7. mackem 95 November 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    This has nothing to do with bnp, it was just a drunkin idiot who decided to shout abuse at mrs bent. The man did say it directly to her and it happened OUTSIDE the pub and BEFORE the game. the police had the chance to arrest him then but they let him go obviously without taking his name otherwise they wouldn’t need witnesses.

  8. Pete Sixsmith November 30, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    What a sad state of affairs this all is. Why do people have to say things like that? It’s got nothing to do with freedom of speech, it’s just down to ignorance and arrogance. Terrible blow to our clubs image and to the self esteem of our supporters. Makes me want to crawl into a corner.

  9. matt November 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    why are we saying stuff about BNP?? at the end of the day this guy has set rumours rife that the north east especially s’land is full of racists. this prat shud cum out apologise to Mrs Bent, Darren and anyone else offended….also this could drive away Darren from our club and players thinkin of coming up here may think twice, i know this point is very minor when you consider the bigger picture but still worth a mention, i think…..Sorry Bent family on behalf of all Sunderland fans, you have our full support

  10. Andrew November 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    This has a lot to do with the BNP. Are you trying to tell me that someone who is prepared walk by a person in a social situation and use possibly the most offensive word in the english language for black people n****R within her earshot, for a bit of a daft laugh is not a full on racist and probable BNP member/supporter. The suggestion is laughable and an insult to anyone with even several brains cells.

    Given the people involved, I refuse to accept that this incident be taken in isolation and I will only be satisfied if the guilty suffers the strictest possible punishment applicable for racist behaviour at a football match. The kickitout campaign has been endorsed by all clubs and professional footballers and it’s situations like this where a players mother has had to suffer a grave insult, action has to be taken or the campaign loses legitimacy.

    What’s more we don’t want sunderland football club to become a haven and playground for BNP activism, that can only be detrimental to the club.

  11. peter lee November 30, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    when i lived in brixton in the early 1990’s . . . and i’m white . . . i was racially abused HUNDREDS of times in the street by ethnic gentlemen who took exception to the fact i was white . . . .it was no big deal, rather a sad, pathetic reflection on society.

    the same still stands, it is wrong to verbally abuse anyone, but there will always be a minority who will be more than happy to do so, regardless of whether its connected to football or not…

    I feel far too much is made of it nowadays and taking things into context, this matter is being blown right out of proportion, maybe because it is the mother of our star player ? sure the lad needs a stern talking to and needs to issue a heart felt apology, but lifetime bans, prison, public humiliation….give me a break.

    this does not harm the name of sunderland football club and i’m sure not a game passes anywhere in the country where worse abuse is seen and heard , but nothing done about it ?

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