Racism in Sport – No Thanks!

Around the world organisations are making an effort to eradicate this cancer from their sport. Every now and then it rears its ugly head. Are we naïve that it was never there to begin with? Perhaps!

Racism belongs nowhere. That is the reality. It is for small minds and uneducated neanderthals that lived in yesteryear (but did not belong there either!!).

FIFA has a long running campaign against racism. The world is multicultural and sport is a role model for reality.

We have seen in Italy perennial bad-boy ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli walked his entire AC Milan team off the park with Kevin Prince Boateng when they and other black players on their side were racially abused by the fans of AS Roma earlier this season. The match was suspended temporarily. Hats off to ‘Super Mario, Prince Boateng and team! That takes balls. The fans of Roma should be punished if not the club who took a 50000€ fine already.

Often football teams are punished in Europe by playing behind closed doors due to fan trouble or incidents of racial abuse. This in turn becomes a financial implication to the club; fans miss a game or two and although not fixing the problem make it costly to everyone.

FIFA is at least trying to make it aware. Before every sanctioned international it is visible. Fair Play & No to Racism banners that the whole world can see – it is the world game after all. Players promote this for their clubs, and internationally and even wear this motto on their sleeve, the same place they carry their hearts!

In Australia’s AFL, separate incidents this week toward the same athlete have provoked an ugly backlash. Adam Goodes, an indigenous footballer, and twice Brownlow Medalist for the league’s best and fairest was the victim.

During a match between Collingwood and his Sydney Swans he was targeted by racial remarks by a 13 year-old fan. The fan was pointed out and evicted – but Goodes in his good nature later accepted her apology. Did this child know what she was doing? What do her parents think about the incident? Are they the ones that gave her this mindset directly or indirectly? Probably YES!

The same week of the incident and Eddie McGuire, president of Collingwood FC on radio suggested Goodes should play King Kong in a musical presentation of the screen classic. Shameful remarks by a person who actually vilified the accused and the motion or action of racism after going to the Sydney dressing room to apologise after the match.

Eddie has said sorry but since not tried to apologize or seek remorse but turned it back on himself as a symbol of all things correct in this world and how he would never in a million years be known to make shameful comments like this. Should he be stripped of the presidency? That’s not for us to say. The club functions with a committee and they support him, fair enough.

Harry O’Brien, Collingwood and mixed race player, followed this up by tweeting “It doesn’t matter if you are a school teacher, a doctor or even the president of my football club I will not tolerate racism, nor should we as a society. Im extremely disappointed with Eddie’s comments and do not care what position he holds”.

The AFL called it a “gaffe”. Surprise, surprise Andrew Demetriou the AFL CEO is spineless again in letting this go and sweeping it under the carpet. If this happened in the NRL or the A League you would not hear the end of it.

If anything, it is harmful for the sport to act this way. One day it is racism, the next drugs, the next?????

Mr Demetriou must deal with it. Make people, clubs and communities aware and put them on notice. Close the MCG to the public on game day. Take a leaf from Europe. Close the stadiums, penalise teams with hefty fines, dock them their TV rights, rid them of their stadium attendance money, make the fans suffer by not letting them watch their team. Then see behaviours change and the sheep get back into line!!

What the AFL and everyone involved unfortunately are more worried about is money.

Social media will not let this issue go and if we know one thing, it is things can go viral very quickly in this the ‘Information Age’.

Hearing stories at the local football club I play and coach at (soccer for you who still call it that). A young lad of African heritage, but born in Australia and as Australian as the rest of us told a story how he was suspended from school for fighting with another student. I asked why and he replied “he called me a black c**t”. Was he the victim or the culprit? What is worse in this story is that the other student was not punished. That is happening in school yards all over Australia! Unacceptable!

The next generation should not be exposed to this. What these incidents are hopefully doing with the help of the internet are reinforcing to young people that it is wrong.

Let’s just hope they will then confront the topic head on and slander such behaviour. This is something that the new generation is good at!

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