Sports Features of 2014-03-20

Racism exposed in Brazil just before world cup

To hear hidden racism has been exposed in no less a place than Brazil is the biggest shocker in the run up to the FIFA World Cup 2014, particularly so when the South American country is the largest black nation outside of Africa where blacks and whites were happy world champions together on many occasions. The world has seen the Brazil national teams, at all levels, composed of both black and white players play together so well and winning tournaments that one hardly ever contemplates if the camaraderie that the players exhibit on the field is reciprocated across the country. Incidentally, a couple of weeks ago (6th March 2014), a 27-year-old midfielder, Marcos Arouca da Silva was subjected to monkey chants and racist insults after inspiring his club, Mogi Mirim to victory in a Paulista State Championship match. The highly disgusted midfielder later told the press the incident killed the happiness he felt over his team’s good performance and the excitement he felt at scoring a goal. “I sincerely hope cases like this will be severely punished because until that happens nothing is going to change. Impunity and the connivance of authorities with the people who do this kind of thing are every bit as serious as the acts themselves. Arouca’s team mate described the incident as embarrassing and insisted, “We say that we don't have racism in this country but I think that it's one of the countries that does. It's because of a lack of education." Surprisingly, a week before this shameful incident a referee in the city of Rio Grande do Sul had bananas thrown on his car during a game between Esportivo and Veranopolis in a local state championship. Fans reportedly told referee Marcio Chagas da Silva “your place is in the jungle” and “to get back to the circus.” Brazil President, Dilma Vana Rousseff was forced to wade into matter describing it as unacceptable that Brazil, the largest black nation outside Africa should find itself confronting such scenes of racism. President Rousseff must be one disturbed head of state because of the incidents, stating she is inviting religious leaders from around the world to contribute anti-racism messages during the World Cup finals. Racism in football is an open knowledge with footballers playing in some of the biggest leagues in Europe, for example the Italian Serie A and the Spanish La Liga experiencing some ugly incidents. After Russia was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup, beating England in that very close contest, one of the arguments used against that country hosting the tournament was that racism is shrouded in its football. Former Ghana international, Laryea Kingston had cause to reveal that he suffered racial abuse from Russian international Andrei Arshavin during his time with Locomotive Moscow. According to Kingston, Arshavin who was then playing for Zenit St. Petersburg called him (Kingston) a monkey three times on the field of play and recalled several instances where African players suffered similar or even worst abuses in Russia. Kingston’s revelations, according to the media, goes a long way to confirm reports of several racial abuse suffered by blacks especially in North-Eastern Europe. Incidentally, racism is not confined to Russia or Eastern Europe but is found right in the heart of European football in the Italian Serie A and the Spanish La Liga. Cameroon international, Samuel Eto’o Fils was forced to stop sending his wife and children to the Stadium while at Inter Milan because they continually got abused by fans of opposing teams. Kevin-Prince Boateng’s experience with racism in Italy need not be elaborated, which allegedly forced the Ghana international to switch the Italian Serie A for the German Bundesliga. Balotelli is another player who has suffered racial abuse even from his own Italian fans while on international duty. These are just few incidents of racism out of the countless that black players have to suffer because of the colour of their skin. Reactions to racism have been diverse, from fining clubs what many consider meager, to threatening players not to react to racist chants from the stands. Clubs and players have always been the targets in the so-called fight against racism while the real perpetrators of the act hardly get identified or punished in anyway. What is obvious, however, is football authorities have failed woefully to deal with the problem or give black players adequate protection from racist abuses to unwarranted racial assaults. This is why reports of racism in Brazil football scared me because I cannot just imagine what would happen if jubilating African fans troop to a club to celebrate victory over the host nation. Incidents of racism in a stadium and the field of play are concentrated so dealing with this form of bigotry would be easy, same however cannot be said when a large group of fans are racially abused in a club or on the streets. The swift reaction of President Rousseff and statements by those affected in the recent incidents, point to simmering racism even in Brazilian football. As the world gather in South America for the biggest football fiesta, how would the skin colour consciousness that has blinded some be removed, even if just till the end of the tournament, so that both players and fans of African descent would have fun while in Brazil. Since the Black Stars qualified for the tournament, I have been dreaming of having a gang of fun in South America but after reading about these incidents, I have been contemplating the appropriate reaction if I happen to have bananas thrown at me while in Brazil. I pray these are just isolated cases so that when we get to Brazil we can have lot of fun despite the colour of our skin. Say no to racism, it kills!Source: Osumanu Al-Hassan
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