Measures Against Racism Not Harsh Enough
By Young Kim
On April 29, 2014, NBA commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer and announced that he will ban Sterling from the NBA for life and will do whatever he can in his power to force him to sell the team. In the meantime, sponsorships pulled away from the Clippers, citing that they did not want to be affiliated with a racist. A message was sent to America that day--Racism has no place in our country.
The same weekend the controversial recording was released, a Villarreal fan threw a banana at Barcelona defender Dani Alves before he took a corner kick. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has repeatedly expressed his displeasure with racism and promoted his “Say No To Racism” campaign to raise awareness, but why isn’t he, the leader of the highest power in world football, making any steps in his power to put an end to the issue of racism in football? Why hasn’t UEFA or FIFA stepped in to tell the Royal Spanish Football Federation to fight this issue?
In the face of racism, the NBA did not hesitate to find an immediate resolve to such xenophobic bigotry. Resolve doesn’t mean starting a meager campaign to raise awareness to the issue. Resolve means attacking the issue and using whatever power possible to eliminate the problem. In European football, the issue of racism has been brought up so many times and yet no resolve has ever been made.
Did anyone forget about the time AC Milan walked off the pitch during a friendly against Pro Patria because Kevin-Prince Boateng was racially abused? How about the time Fenerbahce player Emre Belozoglu called Trabzonspor’s Didier Zokora a “F***ing n*****?” Although the Turkish public prosecutors charged Belozoglu to face a six-month to two-year prison sentence, the Turkish Football only slapped him with a two-match ban.
Chelsea captain John Terry on the other hand doesn’t have to worry about facing time in prison and got away with a four-match ban and a £220,000 fine after racially abusing Queens Park Ranger’s Anton Ferdinand.
With little to no action made by the governing heads of multiple leagues, has progress been made to rid European football of racism entirely since?
Spain coach Vincente Del Bosque might be correct when he says that racism is not a widespread problem and that, “It’s not something everyone is doing,” but the Spanish coach clearly missed the key point. Not everyone is a racist, but the fact that there are racists associated with the game of football does present a major issue.
How is it possible that in a global game where people of different countries and skin colors play together that such degenerate xenophobic people remain affiliated with this sport?
It’s about time the football world gets with the times and start taking a serious approach in fighting racism. The governing heads of football must stop prioritizing the quality of the play and put racism on top of their agenda.
Football is such an influential pastime across the world. When the leaders of the sport take such a lax and unresponsive approach to major issues like racism, the people that follow it will reflect such action. It tells the world that although racism is a problem, it’s not that big of an issue.
Every football league and association should follow Silver’s approach to handling the racism issue. Each league and organization should hold each other accountable and set high standards in disciplining this issue.
Make the punishment for racism severe to the point that any acts of intolerance or bigotry will result in a lifetime ban from the game. If racism is a serious crime to the extent the Turkish government made Emre Belozoglu face a prison sentence, it would make sense for the Turkish Superlig to issue a lifetime ban to avoid association with such people. A couple of match bans just won’t do.
There are some leagues that ban fans for life or make teams play in front of empty stadiums if fan abuse is out of control. If the governing bodies are doing what they can to hold fans accountable, the same should be applied to players and staffs affiliated with the game.
If any European football league refuses to issue a lifetime ban to a racist player or owner, UEFA should do whatever they can in their power to deny European clubs the right to play in the Champions League until that issue is resolved.
If a national team player or coach makes racist comments about another country, FIFA should suspend the team from playing in a World Cup or any international competition until that racist player or coach is hit with a lifetime ban from football.
Reports have emerged from the NBA that owners are willing to unanimously vote on forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers in order to remove any association with the controversial owner. Perhaps every football league can follow the NBA’s model and give club owners the power to vote on the removal of any owner, staff member or athlete for xenophobic actions.
Every governing football league could recognize a loss in revenue or weakening relationships if they did so, but as stated before, the leaders of football must get their heads out the sand and see that there are bigger things in the world than football.
If steps as extreme as these aren’t taken, it only proves to show that these leagues and organizations are cowards and do not have the guts to rid themselves of a disease that has left European football in such a socially degenerate state.
The cure is never easy, but it’s always needed. It doesn’t matter how displeasing it is to have a surgery and undergo a rehabilitation process, if that is what it takes to cure a heart problem then it must be done.
If harsher measures aren’t taken by every football league to combat racism, then nothing will be done. As for the Villarreal fan who threw the banana, the team has banned the fan for life. However, one club is not strong enough to make the message clear. It’ll take a united effort from all clubs and leagues to make a harsh stand against racism in order to make the message clear to the entire world.
In the meantime, racism will still live, much to the shame of the beautiful game.