Ivan Toney has issued a statement through the Peterborough United club website in relation to a song sung by supporters about him.
The chant by fans on matchdays could be heard again at the Posh’s home match against Coventry City. The lyrics to it is “Ivan Toney, Ivan Toney, He hates the Cobblers, He hates the Cambridge, his cock is fucking massive!”
— Peterborough United (@theposhofficial) October 29, 2019
Ivan Toney wrote: “I want to thank the supporters for the way they have backed me since I arrived at the football club. It is great to feel loved by the fans. Whilst the song is not offensive to me, it would be great to hear a new family version of the song so all of the young supporters in the stadium can join in too.”
@jamesb17_ on LondonRoad.Net wrote after the game under the headline ‘We Need To Talk About THAT Ivan Toney Song’: “Water is wet. The sky is blue. Ivan Toney is really really good at football. These are all obvious statements. Blatantly, Posh fans are keen to pay tribute to the 23 year old striker, and what better way than with a terrace chant? An early incarnation was set to the tune of Rotterdam by The Beautiful South, and told all and sundry of Toney’s ability to score from 20 yards or 30 yards, anywhere he went. It didn’t quite scan, it wasn’t great, but there we have it. However, this season saw a new chant for Toney, and much like the time we replaced Mark Wright with Steve Bleasdale, we took something crap and swapped it for something much much worse…
“Regrettably, I’m going to have to write out what the new hit, to the tune of folk song La Bamba, popularised by Californian band Los Lobos is: Ivan Toney, Ivan Toney, He hates The Cobblers, He hates The Cambridge…
“All pretty standard and harmless stuff so far. And then, the final line: His cock is fucking massive!
“*SIGHHHHHH* It’s offensive on a number of levels, and I’ll put forward why that’s the case here, and the best thing that the entire fanbase can do is stop singing it with immediate effect.
“Firstly, just listen to what you’re singing, folks: “His cock is fucking massive”. Why are you singing about a penis in the first place, massive or otherwise? It’s weird. If I was a betting man, I’d say the type of people that think this song is not just inoffensive, but actually appropriate to sing will be exactly the type of individuals who think ‘poofter’ and ‘bender’ are acceptable terms, and are so certain of their heterosexuality that they avoid eye contact with other men for fear of sending mixed messages; the irony isn’t lost.
“Anyway, back to penises. Ivan Toney’s family and friends are frequent visitors to The Weston Homes Stadium. Do you think they want to hear about his genitals? Toney’s partner gave birth earlier this year. I hope and pray that Toney is still a Posh player when his baby is old enough to watch and understand football, but I also hope and pray that they don’t have to listen to songs like this about their dad. It’s just unpleasant, and I’d hazard most people wouldn’t want their children subjected to similar words that Toney Jr may hear.
“But why is it sung? Of course, it’s because Ivan Toney is black. There’s an episode of The Office where David Brent, a man whose character is built on a foundation of being out of touch, gets himself tied in knots over what he felt was a harmless joke, where the punchline was ‘Is it a black man’s cock?’. As Ricky Gervais’ character has it explained to him in very simple terms in a sitcom that’s knocking on 20 years old, his joke played on the stereotype that all black men have large penises; Brent is confused, claiming that this prejudice is actually a compliment, underlining his complete misunderstanding of the issue and mirroring some of the defences some may have of the Toney chant.
“The stereotype acts as a dehumanisation of black men. They’re beast like. An animal with a huge penis; perhaps a workhorse, carrying out manual labour that a slave would have been forced to do in centuries gone by. Now I’m under no illusions; I don’t think everyone singing the song is making a conscious effort to be racist. They don’t leave the London Road End and head straight for an EDL march, or put white cloaks on and burn crosses on Bridge Street. It’s thoughtless, and at first reading may not be overly offensive. But say the chant ended with something about Toney being an absent father, or a drug dealer, it would obviously be seem as far more offensive by the wider public. Those two are stereotypes of black people, and so is having a large appendage. Do you see the issue?
“‘But but but’ some Posh fans have said, ‘if he was offended, Toney would say something himself’. Firstly, we don’t know that. Perhaps Toney is a shrinking violet publicly, and doesn’t want to be seen calling out his own fans? But let’s assume he isn’t. Toney may have heard the chant, shrugged his shoulders and gone ‘meh’. Which is fine; if he isn’t offended, I’m glad. However, something not offending someone and that thing not being offensive aren’t the same thing. If I called someone a massive twat, but they just so happened to have an incredibly thick skin and not care, does that mean ‘massive twat’ is no longer offensive? Of course not. To further reference The Office, “Why should only black people be offended by racism?”.
“There are further defences: “Ah, but if we sang the same about a white player, it wouldn’t be racist!” Well yeah, but you wouldn’t. There are no songs (that I’m aware of) about the size of a white footballer’s penis. And even if they are, the reason for them would not be based on a racial stereotype, which is the underlying issue here. Quite simply, if Ivan Toney was caucasian, nobody would sing a song with reference to his ‘massive cock’. It’s offensive. It’s no coincidence that a quick google throws up a condemnation by anti-racism organisation Kick It Out of Everton fans for a similar chant celebrating (black) central defender Yery Mina. Only last week, the police identified a man from the other side of Stanley Park who unveiled a banner depicting (black) Liverpool player Divock Origi. The Reds supported this intervention. Two years ago, a chant by Manchester United fans was publicly criticised by their (black) striker Romelu Lukaku, as it made reference to a 24 inch penis. Do you see a theme here?
“I’m fortunate. I’m not a member of a marginalised group. I’ve never experienced any discrimination. The extent of prejudice against me is people feeling sorry for me for being a Posh fan. I don’t have the experience of racism, the epistemic privilege, to speak with any authority on racism. But I can recognise it when I see it. It may not be on the same level as the scenes in Sofia earlier this month, where monkey chants almost led to the abandonment of England’s match against Bulgaria. It’s not as disgusting as that infamous photo of John Barnes being pelted by a banana. But it’s a song that’s rooted in a racial stereotype. We can’t pick and choose which of them are bad; they’re racist. A Home Office report recently told of reports of hate crime in England and Wales doubling since 2014; there is clearly an issue with discrimination in our society as a whole. Obviously, that’s something that a group of fenland football fans can’t tackle alone; but we can at least NOT perpetuate racist stereotypes that threaten to normalise racism in the wider world.
“I’m going to make no apologies for sounding like a liberal, Guardianista snowflake here. Like I said, I don’t think the people who sing this shit chant are being wilfully racist. But if you’ve read this, and yet still maintain that it’s fine for this to be sung, it’ll raise questions, I won’t lie.”
After reading the player’s statement on that chant sung about him on matchdays, fans took to express their surprised and frustrated reaction aimed at the ‘snowflakes’ – see those tweets on the next page.