Friday, November 25, 2011

White people tell black people how they should react to racism in football

Racism in football is not new, and not as bad as it used to be, but it still manages to find ways to raise its ugly head. With Chelsea captain John Terry under scrutiny for apparently calling QPR's Anton Ferdinand something that rhymes with "plucking whack stunt", and Liverpool's Luis Suarez recently in hot water for repeatedly calling Man U's Patrice Evra "negrito" during a game, racism is a hot topic right now. And that's not to mention the regular incidents of crowd racism that plague the game, particularly in continental Europe. In but two such incidents this year, Djibril Cisse, a French striker plying his trade in Greece, was subjected to monkey chants and then attacked by opposing fans in a February derby match; while legendary Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos repeatedly had bananas thrown at him on the pitch in the Russian league.

So in these delicate times, FIFA President Sepp Blatter hardly covered himself in glory when he suggested that players who are racially abused by other players on the pitch should be able to resolve it with a simple handshake after the game. Combined with the way FIFA comes down on clubs whose supporters are responsible for racist behaviour - either ignoring it completely or giving them a light slap on the wrist - it all adds up to a administrative body that is completely out of touch.

Man U's Rio Ferdinand (brother of the aforementioned Anton), who is not normally known for saying anything particularly intelligent, tweeted in response:

"I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against seems it was just on mute for a while."


"Just for clarity if a player abuses a referee, does a shake of the hand after the game wipe the slate clean??"

While Arsenal's young combative midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong tweeted the cruder but funnier:

"If Blatter Ever Come to Arsenal am Gna Frimpong Him"

Following this uproar, Blatter released a statement saying he was misunderstood, and attaching to it a photo of him hugging a black man for good measure. (The particular man is a prominent South African politician, the awesomely-named Tokyo Sexwale.) It is the photographic equivalent of the classic response to accusations of racism - telling everyone that you have black friends. Because everyone knows that if you have even one black friend, you are automatically deemed free from racial prejudice.

Meanwhile, former Uruguayan international and now coach of Brighton, Gus Poyet (below), stuck up for his under-fire countryman Suarez.
"I believe Luis Suarez, it's simple. I played football for seven years in Spain and was called everything because I was from South America. I never went out crying like a baby, like Patrice Evra, saying that someone said something to me."
Now, I don't really know what nasty names white Spanish people call white South Americans, but I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that they are probably not quite as nasty as what white people call black people. And they probably don't have quite the same historical context to them.


  1. People are just way too sensitive about stuff these days.

  2. European racism is interesting because it's mostly driven by ignorance and backed by arrogance. I guess it's easier to say just ignore it if you're not the one getting bananas thrown at you.