Racism and Football – Are We Overreacting?

Hello, dear regular readers, I’m back after a small hiatus, here to post again about a couple of things that have been bothering me for the last month or so.

What’s that? Who the flying fuck are you, you ask? Come on, it hasn’t been that long since I posted, has it? Let me see, it’s only been – oh. Well, my apologies. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing for Craptivate.

Anyway, this is the thing – in the last few months, racism issues seem to have left a bitter taste in the mouth for a follower of world football. First there was Patrice Evra accusing Luis Suarez of racially abusing him during their league encounter at Anfield. Then we had Anton Ferdinand being singularly unimpressed with being called a “fucking black c**t” by John Terry. And most recently, Mario Balotelli was subjected to monkey chants by Porto’s supporters at the Estadio do Dragao, followed by a laughable counter-complaint by Porto.

Each of the cases received a significant amount of publicity (roughly arranged in decreasing order up there). The question is, though – was it necessary? Is it possible that ever so slightly, the importance of the incidents was exaggerated?

Let’s look at the Suarez-Evra case first. Suarez admitted to calling Evra “negro”, a term he claims is used in a friendly manner in his native Uruguay. Even so, he should probably have known better than to say that to a person of African origin, right? Open and shut, Suarez is a racist. Right?

Well, take a look at this video.

Patrice Evra, after a Champions League semifinal against Chelsea, is on record referring to his opponents as niggers, among various other unspeakables. Now, isn’t he using the exact same word he had a problem with, in the exact same context? Does that mean he is guilty of racism – against his own race, no less?

So let’s be sensible and accept that the word nigger has most unfortunately found its way into general slang, with a demeaning connotation. I, for one, have little sympathy for Evra – if he’s said similar things in the past, he should at least have accepted Suarez’s apology for having “accidentally offended” him, instead of playing the race card and getting the Liverpool striker an 8-game ban.

(I know a lot of you are probably accusing me of being a Liverpool fan at this point. I’m not. And I try my best to call it like I see it, anyway.)

I’m less inclined to support John Terry, partly because, after lip-reading experts confirmed that there was no plausible combination of words other than “fucking black c**t” that could match the movement of his lips, the explanation he made up was worthy of a pre-schooler. (He claimed he was clarifying to Ferdinand that he hadn’t called him a fucking black c**t, and unfortunately the video grab featured only the last three words! Rotten luck, chap.)

But that doesn’t change the fact that in this day and age, I feel we should treat verbal racism as nothing more than plain, ignorant swearing.

My main grouse is that these incidents of racism get way more publicity than they deserve. And what is the need for it all, in the 21st freaking century?!

I know they probably have good intentions, but the way the European press claps its metaphorical hand to its mouth every time someone says something politically incorrect is getting seriously annoying (at least to me).

Imagine you’re a top-level footballer with African roots – you have finally accomplished your dream of playing for a leading European club. Now some random fan or player of a rival team (who, by the way, is entitled to not be nice to you during those 90 minutes) calls you a monkey or makes noises or gestures to that effect. Would you care? Not a lot. Not a bit, in fact. Yeah, I thought so.

Then you wake up the next morning and find that all the newspapers can talk about the next day is that one insignificant, unsavoury incident. What the hell?! By just uttering a pointless six-letter word, Mr. Nobody-Till-Yesterday has got the hacks in a major flurry. You shake your head, throw the papers away and get on with your awesome life, which is not something the instigator can do because he doesn’t have one.

Now while that’s how it should work in an ideal world, the reality is that both Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdinand filed complaints. They were certainly within their rights to do so, but I would urge them to think of the larger message it sends. I’d say they’ve unfortunately been overwhelmed by the massive junk that some journalists write, probably just to fill column inches. One utter scatterbrain even had the audacity to bleat that the Suarez-Evra incident “has the potential to set race relations back by half a century”. It is such brainless journalism that could cause paranoia, much more than the incident itself!

Let me digress a little bit. The Europeans – their ancestors, I mean – were guilty as hell of mistreating the native peoples of their colonies during the Colonial era. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. It looks to me like they’re finally feeling the pinch of their conscience. If they’re trying to apologise, or make up for it, by acting overly protective of the other races now, well, let them know that we ain’t falling for that. Nor is it necessary. What’s done is done. If they really want to go down that road, there’s a lot more concrete things they could do apart from reassuring us, time and again, that they don’t think we’re primates.

It is obviously an ugly reflection on society when a section of the crowd at a football stadium chants racial slurs, but why give them the attention they so desperately seek? It is a serious problem only when that section approaches a significant percentage. Why dedicate to them a whole project (the Kick It Out anti-racism initiative) when they can defeat it by simply opening their foul mouths again? Why not just show them nobody gives a tiny fuck? Then things would be so much simpler.

Posted on February 25, 2012, in Everything Else. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. wait wait wait. arnt one of yous an iyer and another one of yous an iyengar…wisetongue if u beat him its coz hes an iyengar…dont lie…(jokes guys jokes, calm down.. i was only kidding.)

  2. yes, i agree. all racists are trolls who want attention. where the hell does race come into sport anyway? how does it matter if im brown or black? if i beat you, that means you suck, not anything else.

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