11 July 2006

Racism in Football

The general question regarding the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa is, is the country ready to organise them and will all the necessary structures be in place for the deadlines. Quite frankly to me it seems like something that quite easily will get done if there is a will and surely there must be as the tournament is arriving to the mother continent for the first time. For me the real question is actually completely different – will the football be ready for South Africa and 2010?

In the World Cup Final last Sunday night the French captain Zinedine Zidane was given a red card in the match against Italy for a knocking an Italian player with his head. At this point I must say in the name of honesty that I was on the French side and I wished them the victory and a small part of my anger in this topic is about the fact that I don’t like the way the Italians play football – fall down crying when someone breathes towards them on the pitch. Why Zidane did what he did is not quite clear yet. He was being provoked verbally by Italian player and what was being said is not quite sure yet, but it seems that it has either being something racist or something offending the family and possibly it has been a calling Zidane a terrorist. Italian player, Marco Materazzi, says that he definitely did not use the word terrorist as he doesn’t even know what it means. It is not that he is struggling with the different definitions of the term or the notion "one’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter" but he actually admits being ignorant just in general.

Due to the fact that I don’t know exactly what was said I can’t really say what is what but if, and it is still a big if (yet something that would not surprise me at all) something like I mentioned was being said he is the one who should have been kicked out of the pitch. It does not justify a physical violence but it still is unacceptable.

The trouble with football and sports in general is that even when they spend so much time analysing the game from various different aspects, they often ignore the most obvious to me. It is the moral one. Football is already struggling with the monkey noise incident in Spain when Spanish fans greeted some English players who where from the Afro-Caribbean community with monkey noises and threw bananas on the pitch. If now, arguably, the greatest player of his generation, Zidane left the game with some, in his own words, ignorant Italian being racist then it really is a shame on the whole sport. If football wants to kick the racism out of it, they must start with the racists. Offer them counselling or take some other action. In any case something definitely needs to be done and quickly.

We cannot be hypocrite and tolerate this from people just because they may be some sport stars. I do not think they are very good role models for the kids if they as adults are celebrating openly their ignorance and see nothing particularly wrong in that. I wish no kid will leave the school saying I am not going to study because I want to be like Materazzi, win World Cup and be celebrated.

So football needs to do a lot of self-examination before it is ready to come to South Africa. There is four years time and I am not for a second doubting that facilities would not be ready for twenty-ten but the actual sport – I am afraid I must be more cynical with it.

No comments: