If there was a "cosy little agreement" between Chelsea and the Football Association not to report the Mark Clattenburg affair to the police, the Society of Black Lawyers which made that allegation will have to explain why the FA pressed on with disciplinary action against John Terry even after a court had acquitted him of breaking the law when racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Yes, a four-game ban for the Chelsea captain was an insufficient punishment, especially in the context of Luis Suarez's eight-game suspension. And yes, football has been too passive in fighting discrimination, hiding behind slogans and T-shirts when it ought to have been arguing for equality of opportunity - especially in coaching and management.
But the moment Peter Herbert embraced the shock doctrine, you could feel the net bulge with an own goal for those fighting an upsurge in bigotry on and off the pitch. Put it this way: if the FA is "institutionally racist", as the Society alleges, what does that make Fifa and Uefa with their powder-puff fines?
As a distinguished barrister, Herbert, the head of the organisation, is meant to be careful with facts and words. So we should ask why he felt entitled to condemn the FA without first considering a mass of evidence to the contrary beyond the allegations directed at Clattenburg by some Chelsea players.
To compare football's governing body to the Metropolitan Police at the time of Stephen Lawrence's murder was to impugn an organisation and its staff on a headline-grabbing impulse. When Herbert reached for the nuclear option, I thought of the people at the FA who would find such an allegation insulting and unjust, and how it would play into the hands of those who want the issue to be rammed back into a cupboard.
The accusation was so imprecise and counter-productive that Herbert will struggle to make his voice heard again among those he needs to enlist. The difference between not doing enough and being actively racist ought to be understood by someone who spends his life in court, and who has peered over the abyss of human cruelty in his role with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
His strategy seems to be scattergun indignation, which is part justified by the seriousness of the crime, but is alienating many he needs on his side. Herbert's professional body reported the Clattenburg allegations to the police because it had heard about the incident on television and read about it in newspapers. Scotland Yard, two weeks later, dropped the case "because no victims had come forward" and no evidence had been submitted beyond Herbert's complaint.
Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, struck a more constructive note: "We have to have faith Chelsea have reported the incidents in good faith and that the FA will deal with it accordingly, and report it to the police if necessary."
This gives Chelsea the benefit of the doubt, which they may yet lose if the case against Clattenburg is shown to be spurious. The problem, from the anti-racist point of view, is that Herbert has seized on an alleged incident that is grinding its way through the proper channels to flail the FA for supposed collusion with the lords of Stamford Bridge.
To which you might say: ask the Chelsea board whether they felt they were in cahoots with David Bernstein and FA mandarins when the John Terry report accused them of "evolving" their evidence to support their captain. There is simply no basis to support the claim of "cosy little agreements". If anything the FA and Chelsea are circling one another like sumo wrestlers.
The more you examine the struggle against racism in football, which is a necessary fight, the more you see the need for objectivity and legal accuracy. Herbert, I would wager, has calculated that he needs to shock the game out of complacency. By challenging the moral probity of the FA, he seeks to shame it into action. Instead he has smeared many employees who despise racism as much as he does.
The same battering-ram tactic was apparent in his attempt to force the police to act against Tottenham fans who use the phrase "Yid Army," to defuse anti-semitism, rather than to prolong it. Personally, I would be grateful never to hear the phrase again, but it seems odd to threaten to unleash the police against people who have chosen their own way to defend themselves against the kind of vile prejudice that animates Herbert in the first place.
The FA may be flaccid at times in the face of a huge societal problem but it is not "institutionally racist". At this delicate point in the fight against resurgent xenophobia it cheapens the argument to toss such terms around.