Monday, June 05, 2006

Racial Low Blows by Soccer Fans on the Rise, African Players Need a World Cup in More Ways Than One

How does one come upon such disappointing news? Well last night I read a post on the Ephblog website and discovered that Khari Stevenson ‘04, a friend of many of us here at browneph, was on the playing field representing Jamaica in their match against England. It was always great to watch that brother play back in college and it gave me great joy to see that he has continued to play well enough to represent his homeland. After reading about Khari, however, I figured I would read up about the World Cup, which is set to begin on June 9th. What I discovered both discouraged and disappointed me.

The New York Times has reported that in recent months there has been an increase in the type of discriminatory behavior that some black players have had to endure from fans. Most likely a manifestation of social tensions that stem from the influx of African immigrants into Europe and the scarcity of jobs, black player have had to bear degradation from fans who express themselves by spitting on players and mocking them with monkey noises. The Times went on to report that players in this year’s World Cup expected everything from the flying of banners with denigratory and racist propaganda to the throwing of bananas and banana peels.

While FIFA is trying to do what it can to curtail this type of behavior, they seem to be banking on the fact that the makeup of spectators at the World Cup will be a bit more cultured (translation: rich). It hurts my soul to be reminded that there are people in this world who are so deficient in compassion that they would resort to such low measures. But such is life.

My heart goes out to those players who must fight that psychological battle with fans in addition to the battle with their opponents on the field. It's a fight that will sadly be fought for years to come.


Brother Afrocan said...

Having spent considerable time in Europe and Germany, I must say I was lucky to only meet really nice people. But I can see the possibility of direct racial attacks being made. Despite the recent influx of Africans to Europe, the place is still largely uni-racial (Aryan) especially in areas like Luxemborg, Germany, Sweden, Norway and other scandinavian states. In such places minorities are REALLY minorities. It makes racial attacks more disturbing as the victim feels very much alone in many cases.

That said, insulting and boorish sports fans can be found all over the world, and in every sport. Just get courtside seats to a Lakers game in Denver and hear the stuff yelled at Kobe or even a Div I college game like Duke-NC.

Brother Smartness said...

Yeah I feel you on that, but I don't think it ever gets to be anything like it is on these soccer fields. I mean they threw banana peels!

When you align thousands of people behind a country and when the race of the citizens in that country is largely homogenous, and you put them all in a soccer arena in a battle for a World Cup...the type of things that fans will yell will be far worse than anything you'll see in an NBA or NCAA event.