James: Racism issue is 'agenda' driven
Former England goalkeeper David James has claimed too much is being made of any issue with racism in English football, and even went as far to accuse some people of using such incidents to protect their own position.
James, 42, who is currently playing in League One for AFC Bournemouth, insisted he personally has never been subjected to any form of racism and he finds it difficult to believe that in the modern era the problem is widespread.
Speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, James said: "I think the organisations which have done so good on the terraces are still employed looking for stuff to be shouted about. And a lot of the issues that we've gone on about in the last season or so, it's more about people driving the issue than the issue being a real focus.''
"Some people get paid for doing certain jobs and certain jobs involve bringing stuff to public notice.''
Asked about whether he was criticising anti-racism groups, James said: "I think that some people have an agenda to keep themselves in existence and, as a player, I don't see the racism issue - anywhere, personally. Maybe people just don't want to aim it at me - I don't know.
"But you read about stuff that maybe you don't need to read about all the time. The anti-racism bodies are on about cleaning up the industry. A racist is going to be a racist. Football is a cross-section of the male population, which includes some racists. But football is for everyone.
"Going into the homophobic thing, does a gay player have to tell everyone that he's gay or can he go and play the game of football and go home and be gay, just as a racist can be a racist, play the game, go home, be racist?
"I struggle with the racist issue in football because I don't see it, and that's not because I've got my head in the sand. In the earlier days, yes, but the game's changed. There are some wonderful organisations out there which have helped football become a much more enjoyable game for everyone.
"Stuff in the crowd being aimed at players - that's gone, or pretty much gone. I don't hear it any more. With regards to the playing side of things, I don't look at myself as any different from the guy who gets changed next to me, and I'm not going to fly anyone's flag in order to join some 'gang', which doesn't need to be joined .
"If you want to go on a coaching course to become a manager then give yourself a chance. If you don't want to go, and moan about not getting jobs, well, probably because you haven't been on the course is the reason why you haven't got a job.
"I don't think it's a racist issue. I just think it's a case that the numbers aren't there. A bit like the goalie situation. Not many goalies go on the course, so, therefore, you're not going to have many goalies make it.''
James also accused the FA of letting the Terry issue "fester'' by not dealing with it ahead of the criminal trial in which he was acquitted.
"If we go back to the Suarez situation, it was dealt with quickly,'' he said, insisting he did not believe Terry was racist. "With the JT situation, it was a case that had gone on for month and months and months, it was allowed to fester.
"They should have dealt with it there and then rather than drag it out. The evidence was that something was said. Whether it was aimed at anybody is irrelevant. We should not condone as a football fraternity that sort of language on the football field.
"If you're in the stand and something was said, even if it wasn't aimed at anyone, you get ejected from the ground so it should have been dealt with straight away.''