In recent months there have been a lot of negative stories about football in the media. My sport has been getting the blame for a lot of things and footballers have been characterised as over-paid and irresponsible.
I don’t want to comment on some of the recent high-profile individual cases, but I do want to state that in my 40 years in the game I have never encountered racial or any other kind of discrimination among professional players.
Of course, the same cannot be said for the behaviour of some fans on the terraces. However, it is society in general that creates such problems and we shouldn’t blame football for our social ills.
It’s time someone stood up for the game and argued that it is a force for good. I’m happy to play my part in that.
It’s true that some young people come into football not knowing what’s right and wrong and not showing respect. And they can earn a lot of money, which can be harmful.
But the fault there is that we are becoming more of a yob society. That is why some kids come into football with the wrong attitude.
It was different when I was growing up in Edinburgh. Back then, my mum and dad, my school, my Sunday school, the Boys Brigade – they all told me what was right and wrong. I was petrified of a policeman.
When I played at Aberdeen, if a journalist interviewed me, I’d be lucky if I was earning more than him. So we were on a level playing field. I could go into a pub and act like a normal person.
Today’s players do have a responsibility. They don’t need to get drunk or behave badly. But we must stop blaming football for all the ills of society.
Sport should bring benefits to individuals and society. It opens up many new avenues in life. Because of the lack of facilities in this country not everyone has the opportunity to be fully involved.
I wanted to do something positive after my playing days which was why I established my Strachan Football Foundation. We are bringing kids aged between 16 and 19 into a different environment. We are not just teaching them about football, but about responsibility and interacting with people.
Some of our lads come from horrendous backgrounds. If we can send them away on scholarships to America, or even get them positions in schools or clubs as coaches – just get them to work with people – we will have succeeded.
The example of one of our lads left me gobsmacked. I have seen a big difference in him in five or six months. Five or six months ago he came to us from a tough background. He didn’t like anybody; I don’t think he even liked himself. Now he has a smile on his face every day.
Football is an easy target. We get a lot of unfair criticism. But, in my opinion, the footballing world is magnificent.
For information on the Strachan Football Foundation visit www.strachanfootballfoundation.co.uk
This article was written by Gordon Strachan for Close Up, the world’s best informed sports and betting magazine. Click here to get a FREE version of Close Up for your iPAD.