The Joke Is On The PFA

The PFA is currently in crisis management mode after controversy arising from its annual awards ceremony following Reginald D Hunter’s ten minute stand up routine prior to the official event. I have seen Hunter perform on at least three occasions and was bemused that the PFA could think that his performance wouldn’t be the slightest bit provocative. The PFA statement claims the comedian was booked off the back of his recent TV appearances, but a simple YouTube search gives a clear picture of Hunter’s material.

The comedian, who is know for his use of the N word (his previous standup show titles include ‘Trophy N****’ and ‘Pride & Prejudice… & N****s’), gave the audience a taste of what was to follow at the beginning of his routine.

Given all the issues with racism that the English football world has encountered over the past two years, it was no surprise that a number of people were uncomfortable with the routine and that it has evolved into a crisis. The Daily Mirror pointed out in their coverage of the event that “Luis Suarez and John Terry have both been punished by the FA over the last two seasons for using racially offensive language. Hunter’s booking also comes just a month after ex-Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, who was at the dinner, was forced to resign as a PFA trustee for using the word ‘N****r’.”

The funniest thing about the whole controversy is that it could all have been avoided. The question has to be asked, did the PFA honestly believed that a controversial comedian would not court controversy as part of his gig? Given how sensitive the organisation is about racism, they should have weighed up the risks and not proceeded with Hunter as their entertainment.

What has followed since has made the situation even more farcical. Some media in attendance thought the routine showed the PFA in a progressive light, but their actions since the event demanding Hunter’s fee back has made a mountain out of a molehill and ensured that this saga will drag out for at least another week.

Pursuing Hunter for his fee has given the story legs and one can only assume that the PFA are honest in their account about pre-briefing Hunter in advance of the gig as there will be serious egg on the organisation’s face if the comedian can dispute their account. Either way Reginald D Hunter will be basking in all the free publicity the episode has given him. He has already started poking fun at the PFA by posting a number of pictures of himself with delighted guests following the event, standing in contrast to PFA deputy chief executive Ben Barnes’ view on the gig: “I can’t think of a redeeming feature where you could say that was positive because I actually think the whole performance from start to finish was dreadful.”


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Piaras Kelly
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