September 10 2017: colour bar

Let’s go back to Campion – flower of Bradford, yesterday’s blog – and to an FA-inspired programme item that previously I’d not come across. The FA wants actively to help the colour blind, said to be one in 12 of British men.

The programme even reproduced an FA flyer – “When you see red, are you sure it’s not green, or black?” – and a quote from chief executive Martin Glenn that they’ve sought expert advice and colour blindness should be treated as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act.

“Any club that does not recognise colour blindness as a disability does so at their own risk,” Mr Glenn adds, a little darkly.

It’s all very commendable, though it does raise the question of when “disability” is so severe that addressing it would unrecognisably change the game for players or other spectators.

There are simple ways in which clubs can help those with visual handicap, nonetheless, and especially when a game’s under floodlights.

Paragraph 7.1 of the standard league rule book stipulates, for example, that shirts shoud be numbered in such a way as clearly to be identified by officials and spectators.

“Striped, hooped and otherwise patterned shirts,” it adds, “shall have numbers affixed to contrasting patches or numbers in a contrasting colour with bold outline.”

Does it always happen? Even if not in breach of a rule, do clubs in search of colourful originality give enough though to whether their players can be identified from more than ten yards? Or whether it’s helpful, say, to wear dark blue kit at night?

In matters of visual handicap I need to declare a beer bottle-bottomed interest, of course, but there are those with perfectly good eyesight who see difficulties, too.

Only last week, Whitley Bay fan Stuart Fitzgerald emailed after their match with Consett. “I used to complain abiout Whitley having black numbers on blue-and-whte striped shirts but Consett played in all-white with silver numbers. Unless the players were near the touchline, you couldn’t make them out. Ridiculous.”

The week previously I was at a night match when two spectators with perfectly good vision professed themselves wholly unable to make out the numbers on the away team’s black-and-white striped shirts from more than ten yards.

For those of us long paid to write about sport, colour blindness can be a particular problem of course – not least at the cricket where the ball is (usually) red and the pitch (almost always) green.

I always recall the reaction of a young optician, on discovering the additional problem. “Oh,” she said, “you’re colour blind as well.”

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