In this day and age, racism is a very touchy issue. Even the same people who repeatedly attack others based on their race hate to be branded racists. However, has FIFA and the whole society gone too far?
My question may have raised a few eyebrows, and if you’re one of them then read on. There is no denying that racial discrimination is a bad thing and I am not trying to promote it. On the contrary, the obsession about racism has led to favourable treatment, double standards and left a door open for other types of abuses.
FIFA, UEFA and country federations are quick to fire penalties and fines for racism, whereas other forms of abuse are left largely unpunished. Lately, we’ve seen players storm off and others suspended for what is perceived to be racist behaviour. But let’s get to the crux of it: where do you draw the line on whether something constitutes as racism or not?
If a black player receives monkey sounds from a section of the crowd whenever he touches the ball, is that necessarily racism? Did someone validate that the offenders were indeed white, or did everyone just assume they were? Because if they just assumed that, that very assumption could constitute as racism. Can black people not afford to buy a ticket as well?
Back in his playing days, the legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn regularly received a banana shower when playing away to Borussia Dortmund. Of course, BVB fans would like to give a few reasons as to why they did that, but in any case the controversy would have been magnitudes of times bigger had Oliver Kahn been black. Because then, it would DEFINITELY have been racism, no?
So why is it OK to throw bananas at Oliver Kahn (despite that they did get some sort of punishment for it), and yet it’d be considered far more serious had it been done to, say, Bernard Lama?
Just last weekend, I watched the match between Juventus and AC Milan. During the match, Milan’s defender Mexes punched Chiellini in an action the referee never saw and hence did not send off. As a result, Mexes remained playing (until he was subsequently sent off for two further bookable offences) and whenever he had the ball in possession one could very clearly hear whistles by Juventus fans. They had a right to be incensed, but does that give them a right to abuse the player? Isn’t this another form of abuse? What would have happened had it been Zapata (a black player) who punched Chiellini and was booed instead? After the match was over, I was surprised to learn that AC Milan will play their next match behind closed doors due to there having been chants of “territorial discrimination” which I didn’t even hear. A case of two weights and two measures, I call.
A few years ago, an American friend told me that if an employer has two similar applicants for a vacancy, he/she would almost always opt to go for the black applicant rather than the white applicant, for fear of being branded a racist, or even worse getting sued by the black applicant.
I believe that once FIFA (and the society in general) gets over with its obsession on racism, they will start looking at the bigger picture and a broader spectrum in forms of abuse. That way, we won’t need to discriminate between the bananas thrown at Kahn, the Schalke fans’ whistles every time the ball reaches Neuer or the monkey chants aimed at Kevin-Prince Boateng. It’s not bad because it’s racist: it’s bad because it’s offensive. Mr Blatter, can you please lead the way to a forward way of thinking?
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