Racism is a poison in our beautiful game and FIFA are doing everything that can to avoid it.
Enough is enough as England Under 21 players are subjected to racial abuse.
Tonight all over various social networking sites and newspaper websites the tragic scenes from Serbia are being reported. One brief look at the footage on YouTube and it is visible, the poison that is racism is ruining our sport yet again. I found myself thinking this is 2012, how can this still be a part of our beautiful game, let alone any society in this world? Tonight I feel compeled to share my feelings of disgust, anger and sadness at these scenes.
In the footage I saw the England Under 21 team were pelted with missiles after a goal in the dying minutes of the game. To further add to this, our young black athletes, most notably Danny Rose were subjected to vile monkey chants. Rose reacted, kicked a ball into the stands out of anger and was shown a second yellow card after the match had ended. This young man had been racially abused, yet he was punished. I don’t want to divulge to far into the events as they are already widely reported. I want to focus more on what this means for our beautiful game, how the Serbian FA and Under 21 team should be punished and generally how this makes me feel as someone who adores this game.
Recently in our game, (and I call it our game because the football belongs to us the people, FIFA, something they need reminding of.) Luis Suarez and former captain of the England team, John Terry have been punished by the FA because of racism. I’m not naive, I know racism in Great British society exists. However in terms of the rest of the world, we live in a tolerant and multi-cultural society. However Suarez and Terry were handed a 8 and 4 match ban respectively. How have we as fans allowed this to happen? How has Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC and football clubs, as teams with a responsibility to society, allowed these two players to continue plying their trade in this country. They have allowed racism to not only exist, but to also exist on a level of exposure that children can are exposed to? We all remember when we were children, how much looked up to players. Remember how badly you wanted to play for your country? Remember how much you used of dream of leading your country out on to that field looking at that armband as captain? Are we really sending out the message to children that if one day, when they grow up, if they become the captain of their national side they can get away with racially abusing someone with a 4 match ban? This thought makes me feel sick to my very core.
Looking at recent punishments for racism the outlook looks bleak. Serbia, more specifically their Under 21 team and their fans have a history of racially abusing black England Under 21 players. 2006 the Serbian FA was fined £16,000 as a result of racial abuse directed at Nedum Onuoha. Just incase you thought your eyes played tricks on you that is £16,000 that is all, No ban. Let’s take another example. The Croatian FA during Euro 2012 was fined £65,000 as a result of their fans racially abusing Mario Balotelli. Compare that to Bendtner’s fine of £80,000 for breaching FIFA’s advertising rules. That shows what FIFA are really interested in. Protecting their advertisement value and their sponsorship revenue.
Thus far punishments have been too lenient. It is too late to start forcing teams behind closed doors. It is time to ban teams from tournaments. I know it isn’t always the athletes fault but it is too late, our beautiful game needs to say enough is enough. For a long while I have said players shouldn’t walk of the pitch because of racial abuse, I have always felt this would show weakness. But it has gone too far and I would be proud if the captain of the team I support, and the captain of my country’s team, lead their team off the field of play if one of their team mates suffered racial abuse.
I’m just in disbelief that the year is 2012 and we are still debating matters such as racism. Racism shouldn’t exist in either OUR beautiful game or OUR societies.