Cheating death and learning scouse: the incredible story of Jacob Viera

Wednesday, 7 October, 2020 13comments  |  Jump to last
The story of Jacob Viera, a Kenyan refugee who came to England after an awful episode of gang-related retribution to try and make it as a footballer. After having a trial with Newcastle, seeing another with Tottenham snatched away and time spent training with Everton's U18s, Jacob is now on the track to become a professional referee.

» Read the full article at The Guardian

Reader Comments (13)

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Steve Ferns
1 Posted 08/10/2020 at 15:25:37
What a great and inspiring story. Good luck to adopted Scouser Jacob in his quest to be a "sick" referee! Also nice to read about what Fabrice Muamba is up to these days.
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 08/10/2020 at 16:57:38
Bravo to the young man, and best wishes for overcoming the racial barriers he may yet face to achieve a professional career. Apparently no Black referees have been promoted beyond non-League status since Uriah Rennie, who retired in 2008.

I've read that the problems are two: one, that the officials and assessors who make those decisions are all white and appear to have an unconscious bias, and two, that the fan abuse all lower-league refs must survive has an additional element of racism to it when the ref isn't white.

There is a similar dearth of Black professional refs here in the US, although the Latino representation is significant.

I will hope to see Jacob in the League one day.

Jay Wood

3 Posted 08/10/2020 at 17:24:22
What a great story!

I won't spoil the read, but the last two paragraphs in the article are a belly-aching laugh-out-loud moment.

Pure scouse.

Read it!

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 08/10/2020 at 17:29:14
I hope he becomes that "sick" referee. What a good read!!
Rob Halligan
5 Posted 08/10/2020 at 17:48:53
I don't fucking swear when I finish a fucking sentence!!

Great read by the way. Made up for the lad. I've been on safari to Kenya twice and Tanzania once, and the people of both countries are really friendly and welcoming, apart from the bandits who tried to rob us when travelling between national parks. Fucking bastards!!I

Only joking by the way about being robbed!!

Chris Williams
7 Posted 08/10/2020 at 18:38:25

Unfortunately Uriah Rennie was an attention seeking bellend, who is the worst possible poster boy for promoting the cause of black referees.

That however is not an excuse for the lack of black officials.

But he was dreadful.

Kieran Kinsella
8 Posted 08/10/2020 at 18:43:13

That sounds accurate but hugely depressing. I think at EPL level with all the cameras I think there's more onus on the authorities to eject racists. But also, it's maybe less noticeable if one racist is yelling among 30,000 others.

I remember being at some Div 3 games at Colchester and it seemed as if one or two regulars provided a running commentary which was easily heard due to the lack of a huge noisy crowd. So I can imagine abuse would be much more noticeable among say 50 yelling voices than 50,000.

A lot of these clubs too are struggling financially so probably don't have the will or the means to ramp up security. That being said, it really shouldn't fall to a club to police the "fans".

I realize to an extent (eg, post Heysel) punishing clubs seem to shake fans up, but it's just a sad and pathetic state of affairs that losers get kicks out of going to grounds just to abuse and harras people.

Kieran Kinsella
9 Posted 08/10/2020 at 18:45:10
Chris 7,

But couldn't you say that of every ref? Collina, Clive Thomas, David Elleray, Twattenburg, Howard Webb, etc etc

Chris Williams
10 Posted 08/10/2020 at 20:43:19

You certainly could.

Mike Gaynes
11 Posted 08/10/2020 at 21:00:20
Chris #7, all us refs are attention-seeking bellends. We LOVE our whistles.

Seriously, I didn't think Rennie was terrible. Arrogant, yes, and sometimes not great on his calls, but one of the least likely refs to get intimidated by a home crowd. Other refs of that era, there was no way to get a big call away or against the big clubs (Halsey, Clattenberg, Dermot Gallagher). With Rennie you could. He was fearless. I admired that.

But Phil Dowd was my favorite, maybe of all time.

Chris Williams
12 Posted 08/10/2020 at 21:20:04

Phil Dowd was very good. One of the few.

I stood in the Top Balcony before a match, and watched Rennie signing autographs for kids, after his warm-up. Personally I've never seen any other official do that, before or since. That's a part of my issue with him. I'll differ with you as to his competence.

The main issue here though, as you raised, is that there is an issue that there are no black officials (or directors, or few managers and coaches). And there certainly is. A real problem.

It's a pity that Rennie is the precedent, is all I'm saying. But we all know that's not the point. I'm sorry I raised it now.

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 08/10/2020 at 21:53:56
Great story about Jacob, hoping to become a professional referee, especially about learning Scouse.

It reminds me of the night, not that long ago, me and my mates met a young Sicilian in Liverpool city centre, we got talking to him and he stayed with us all night, we asked him what he was doing in Liverpool, he said he was studying English and found it quite hard to learn and understand it.

An old fella where he lived said to him “If you want to learn and understand English, go to Liverpool, if you can understand the English they speak there, you'll understand it anywhere." He did okay with us and learned quite a bit, particularly the “French” we spoke.

Peter Mills
15 Posted 10/10/2020 at 06:13:19
A great story, thanks to Andy Hunter and Lyndon for bringing it to us.

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