Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Racism in football(soccer)

Rio Ferdinand today spoke out against FIFA's treatment of racism in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live. Ferdinand said "Sepp Blatter likes to speak up about things that are good for FIFA's image. I would love to see them stand up and dish out the right punishments for these incidents." Ferdinand's teammate Emile Heskey suffered abuse during their game in Croatia, and the Croatian FA was fined a mere £15,000. Ferdinand said that small fines are "not going to stop people shouting racist or homophobic abuse. If things like this keep happening you have to take points off them. Then the punters will realise the team is going to be punished." This may seem drastic, but if FIFA is serious about eliminating racism from the game, it's about time they took a drastic approach.

Racism in football(soccer) is not a recent phenomenon. Those who have been around the game a while or have read books like Bill Buford's Amongst the Thugs know that across Europle, black players were often greeted with monkey noises whenever they touched the ball. While today this is the exception rather than the rule, it still occurs. Samuel Eto'o almost left the pitch(field) during a La Liga match due to the constant monkey noises. In England, one of the most diverse leagues in Europe, officials are investigating whether Sol Campbell suffered racist abuse from Tottenham fans recently. It is often hard to distinguish nationalism from racism in Europe. Anyone who watches a game in Serie A must notice the lack of black players. Italy was the only country at the 2006 World Cup whose entire roster played in their domestic league. Former Italian minister Roberto Calderoli called that victory "a triumph of our identity" over a team made up of "blacks, Muslims and communists." It even goes beyond racism, with Celtic fans caught chanting anti-Queen and pro-IRA. It's pretty clear that somebody has to change the c

Ferdinand was right to criticize FIFA's system of fines. When Aragones called Thierry Henry a "black shit" many expected him to lose his job or suffer a hefty fine. Instead he was fined just €3,000. That may make the £47,000 fine the Spanish FA had to pay in 2004 after their fans were found guilty of racist behavior against England players, but to put it in perspective that is a third of Frank Lampard's weekly wages. Even if FIFA raised the fine substantially, there would still be the question of how to reach a fair sum for each country. A £500,000 fine would hurt the Croatian FA a lot more than it would hurt the Spanish FA. I can only see two solutions: to deduct points, or to play in empty stadiums. Deducting points would have a huge impact, but would also force teams to suffer for the behavior of their fans. If a country has no chance of qualifying, or has already been mathematically eliminated then what purpose does a point deduction serve? I think that making teams play in front of empty stadiums is a better solution. This would negate home pitch(field) advantage, which would affect a team's performance, and the country would lose the ticket sales. FIFA uses this as a punishment for fan violence, and it's time to show that racism is just as unacceptable as violence.

One Liners
  • England official suggests salary cap, Chelsea players fall out of their chairs
  • Mutu refuses to pay fine, Chelsea contemplating whether to break both his legs
  • Cannavaro considers playing for hometown side Napoli when his contract expires, Napoli not so enthused
  • Ferdinand not so interested in Almunia call up, Almunia calls him a racist and says he should be deducted points
  • Ronaldinho predicts a return to his best form, also predicts that this whole financial crisis isn't that bad