There’s no racism in football?
Sepp Blatter seems to live in a fantasy world. There is no way that he believes even half the public statements he makes. Last year, around this time, he said there was no corruption in FIFA. This was obviously a statement made to quell fears about…well about the actual corruption in FIFA.
When he was interviewed by CNN just a few days ago, he stated that there is no racism in football, and the little bit of racism that exists –by the way wouldn’t that be an oxymoron from the moron– could be solved with a handshake. This was not a blanket statement about FIFA’s well being but rather a gross generalization about all of football. Blatter seems to think he knows everything that happens on the pitch, and this makes him either delusional, ridiculous, ignorant, or all three.
Due to the USA’s history Americans are constantly concerned with all aspects of race and race relations. Personally, I am a child of mixed race (African-American and White). I was adopted and brought up by two White parents in Boston (home of forced integration via bussing and Black men getting stabbed by American flags). My wife is Puerto Rican, so my three children are a mix of Black, White, and Hispanic (that’ll be fun to fill out on a census when they’re older). I currently live in Alabama (home of the Civil Rights Movement, Bombingham, and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts). Naturally, when put together, these things give me a much different view on race than most.
My personal background and the background of my countrymen has led us to be hyper-vigilant about race. There have been times when I, or one of my fellow Americans, see race in places it is not. Things that Americans find racist are often seen as mere jokes or non-serious matters to some European fans. That being said, it can’t possibly be only Americans that see European football fans throwing bananas at Black players while imitating gorillas that say, “hey, that’s racist.” More than just Americans must see the acting captain of the English National team video taped saying racist things while playing for his club team that exclaim, “wait a minute!” So when Sepp Blatter claims there is no racism in football it rings hollow.
Do not get me wrong; I am not calling Sepp Blatter racist. I do not know the man, and he would not know me from a hole in the wall. I also understand that he was referring to the players on the pitch and not the supporters in the stands, but he should understand that the acts in the stands trickle down onto the field of play.
Still saying there is no racism on the football pitch is akin to saying there are no bad refereeing decisions, amazing plays, or racist chants at football games. Unless you are completely ignorant you know these things exist.
Unfortunately, racism has become linked with Europe’s football supporters, players, owners, administrators, and clubs. This is the continent where the game was born; the continent that is home to the three (possible even four, five, or six) best leagues and the top tier clubs. Football is linked to Europe, and when nonfootball fans in the USA hear of hooliganism and racist chants they remain unfazed and unsurprised, because to them that is what football is. So while –under Blatter’s leadership– FIFA runs an anti-racism campaign, it appears that they have an “it’s them, not us” mentality. Sepp Blatter denies racism as the very players holding the FIFA mandated banners toss out racist rhetoric on the pitch.
Man up Sepp! You need to admit that the problems of the world also exist on the playing field. Just look at Celtic and Rangers, or Barcelona and Real Madrid, or one of a hundred other football derby matches that began based on racial or religious hatred. It was there, it is there, and it will be there. Saying otherwise makes you look moronic.
Racism, or at least racial insensitivity, is going to exist. It is in baseball and basketball. It is in hockey and American football. It is in curling and badminton. It is in track and field. There is no escaping it, however, other sports bodies do their best to try and wipe it out they don’t just deny its existence. Blatter delusionally seems to believe that while the supporters have racist chants the players do not have a racist bone in their body. He believes that if they do have even the tiniest racist atom in their body they would never let it come out on the field. He seems to think he is Sauron, the all seeing eye, and knows what is in the minds and hearts of players. This statement coming so closely after the accusations against Luis Suarez and John Terry just makes Blatter look ignorant. If he is saying what he thinks the cameras want to hear then he is just ridiculous.
Recently we have seen what can happen when someone puts his love of a sport, or a team, over what is right. The evils get allowed to run loose and everyone loses. People who are set in their ways and do not want to rock the boat that they captain end up leading their vessels to shipwrecks. And while Blatter may not be sinning to the extent of Joe Paterno, he does need to understand that he too is past his best days –if they ever existed at all. Feigning ignorance just makes Blatter look more out of touch than people already believe he is. He has to recognize this.
Or maybe like racism, reality also does not exist in football.