By Chris Wright
Patrice Evra. Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi, Daniel Sturridge, Frazier Campbell, Alan of Braga. It seems that every few days over the past few weeks another fresh report of *alleged* racism has surfaced – whether on the pitch, in the stands or on the often stupefying petri-dish of open twattery that is Twitter.
Not that there’s suddenly a virulent epidemic of racial abuse fogging the minds of the nation or, indeed, that racism in football is any more prevalent than it was two months ago – it’s just that, with the floodgates as open as they are, more players are seeing fit to report incidents that they may have otherwise shrugged off or crudely dealt with themselves from the greasy keypads of their Blackberrys.
For example, if some anonymous little prick calls Player X a ‘monkey’ on Twitter, the current climate and ongoing high-profile cases seem to be tending to lead Player X to report the abuse to his club/the authorities, rather than rising to the bait and ending up with a disciplinary hearing to call his very own.
This is a good thing.
“Some of my best friends are black”
However, FIFA’s Presidential dumpling Sepp Blatter waded into the furore yesterday – first appearing to suggest that racism doesn’t actually exist and that, if it does, then all racist diatribes on the football pitch should be written off with a quick high-five and a slap on the backside at the end of the match.
Which is a bad thing. Only, that’s not actually what ol’ Sepp was getting at.
Blatter, speaking in broken English I might add, was actually trying to make the point that just because a racist slur is bleated during a game as nothing more than a thoughtless, provocative insult, it doesn’t automatically make the player responsible a life-long, frog-marching KKK Grand High Dragon.
Not that that makes it alright by any stretch – the recipient is still being subjected to the same discriminatory terminology and the offence suffered doesn’t differ according to the flippancy of the usage – but Blatter was stating that the fact that the slurs used on any given football pitch (hopefully) aren’t rooted in any insidious, vindictive personal hatred, which surely means that they don’t warrant being treated quite so gravely as many sanctimonious observers would have you believe.
Which is a fair point. One I’ve made before myself. Using a racist term doesn’t necessarily make you a racist.
Given his abysmal track record, Blatter deserves a little credit for distinguishing between the two stems – though he also deserves to have all that credit immediately struck off for failing to recognise that the net result is the same. The hypothetical player in question has been racially abused.
Anyway, since the FIFA honcho’s ill-advised wording yesterday, a gaggle of calls for his resignation have been heeded (once again), with several members of the FA, PFA chief exec Gordon Taylor and Rio Ferdinand all calling for an ‘impeachment’.
Blatter responded with an official apology of sorts (a ‘mitigation’ would be more apt), reinstating his organisation’s firm anti-racism stance and accompanying the statement with a picture of him hugging South African World Cup organiser Tokyo Sexwale – a black chap, in case you were wondering. There you go, proof if proof were needed.
And yes, you did read that correctly. Tokyo. Sex. Whale.