The Lead

As I read the news on Twitter yesterday of UEFA’s paltry fine and single closed door match as punishment to the Serbian FA for events surrounding the U21 match against England last October, I was initially heartened to see a strong condemnation from major English journalists. I was even more assuaged this morning that Michel Platini himself is considering a rare appeal to the punishment, applauded by those same writers.

However, it is hard to feel sympathy for the broadsheet chattering classes in their quest for justice. I don’t recall for example any front page editorials calling for bans, point deductions and crippling club fines in the wake of West Ham’s antisemitic chanting at White Hart Lane. I don’t recall a single, major newspaper columnist who seriously countenanced the idea that John Terry should lose his job—not only for England but as a footballer full-stop—for calling a player a “black cunt”.

I don’t recall any editorials calling for stringent punishments for offensive and racist chants that regularly appear at football matches, as when Ji-Sung Park played for Manchester United and was serenaded with songs like, “He shoots, he scores, he’ll eat your labradors, Park Ji Sung, Park Ji Sung!” I don’t recall any print condemnation of Daily Mail writer Martin Samuel’s op-ed on Joey Barton in which he insinuated a French accent made one “gay.”

The struggle against bigotry and discrimination cannot simply be picked up when convenient and then dropped when it sullies your own house. Marcus Christenson said much the same yesterday in his When Saturday Comes op-ed:

“It is not the first time the FA has hit out at other countries regarding racism. At the moment, though, it needs to look a little bit closer to home. The above-mentioned incidents in England in recent weeks are not isolated. On Sunday, after Manchester United’s late win at Manchester City, there were racist tweets towards Rio Ferdinand. In August a man was arrested after sending racist tweets to the West Ham striker Carlton Cole. In February a Manchester United supporter was charged for shouting racist abuse at a Stoke City player during a Premier League match. The list, sadly, goes on. To deny there is a problem with racism in English football would be to completely undermine any position from which to condemn other countries as well as actually dealing with the problem.”

This is not to denigrate the efforts of many in England today to ensure UEFA punish the Serbian FA in a way that reflects the seriousness of the situation, but it undermines their effort of journalists when they fail to fight the evils at home with the same passion.

Canada

Atiba Hutchinson is Canadian male player of the year for the second time.

England

Platini to appeal Uefa decision regarding Serbia U21 match vs England.

“…keep treating fans as human beings and not animals that have to be behind cages.” -Kompany on introducing netting into stadiums.

City will be without Yaya, midfielder to attend African Nations Cup in the new year.

Darren Bent sidelined for another few weeks.

City unhappy with Barry’s suspension, but reluctantly accept.

One of Arsenal’s largest shareholders wants Henry in a supporting role with the club.

Italy

Milan advance to the next round in the Coppa Italia.

Strama defends Inter’s poor performances.

La Liga

Xavi close to extending contract with Barcelona.

La Liga’s top scorers to face off in Sunday’s match, Messi to meet the Tiger.

Germany

The stunning goal in the Bundesliga that never made international headlines.

Bundesliga honoured for their ‘Made in Germany’ program.

Djurdjic signs with Greuther Fuerth.

Bit and Bobs

Brazilian security forces to investigate violence at Copa Sudamericana final.

Michael Cox explains why playing David Luiz in midfield will benefit Chelsea.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.

Comments (8)

  1. Does anyone know if Serbian fans do this kind of thing with other teams? Their under-21s played Denmark, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands before England, there must be at least one other person with some African heritage playing for those countries, right?

    The reason I ask is I wonder how much of this was pure racism, and how much was racism motivated by a hatred of England. Just after it happened I ran into a former classmate who is Serbian-Canadian. After wholeheartedly condemning the actions of the Serbian fans, he did suggest it may be related to their hatred of England specifically.

    It doesn’t make too much difference – their actions were still awful – but if it only happens against a couple countries that they dislike (say, England and Italy?) and not against ones they don’t dislike (perhaps the Scandinavian ones?)… well, it doesn’t really change too much, but we learn something at least.

    • You probably named the four whitest countries in Europe. Seriously, it wouldn’t shock me if there wasn’t a single black person on any of those teams.

      But you have a point – even if one of those teams had a black player, they probably would barely notice. The countries are small, and Serbia was probably the favourite (and i’m guessing won) in each match. But England is a power (kinda sorta), and one other teams struggle to beat (i think?). Special abuse is probably saved for countries like them, Italy, France, Germany etc.

      • Denmark’s U-21s definitely have a person of Albanian descent (Bashkim Kadrii) and one of Irish-American descent (Thomas Delaney), so at the very least they aren’t 100% Danish… but you’re probably right.

        • I’d bet my house there aren’t any on the Faroe Islands, people there are seriously white.

          I think it also has to do with the fact that a)it happened a couple of years before, I think with Nedum Onuoha, and b)England are a more competitive team at U-21 level than the others….it’s a form of intimidation to gain an edge, that the crowd perceives they need against England that they may not perceive they need against the other countries. Not that it makes it OK though…

    • Well, the Serbian Senior Team played WC qualification games against Belgium, who have quite a few non- white players, and also a friendly against Cameroon in 2010, and afaik there were no problems.

      Of course they played those games in Belgrade, which is probably the most multi- cultural city. Giving the U21 game away from the capital- especially considering the history- was not a good idea.

      Perhaps there really is some anti- English feeling mixed in too. And the knowledge that being racist against England provokes a big media reaction unfortunately often seems to fire up the idiots who seek the attention.

      As to Germany, I don’t remember any abuse of our non- white players for the Senior or the U21 team. At least not in the last few years.

  2. “…keep treating fans as human beings and not animals that have to be behind cages.”

    I guess the Ultras in Belgium and England are rather tame compared to the ones in Italy, Spain, Portugal or South America. Because they are literally caged in.

  3. I never understand this whole racism in football bullshit.. if you are insulting a person on another squad that is black.. or Jewish or whatever the case may be, are you not then alienating the players from your OWN club that are black or Jewish or whatever?.. what is the point in that?.. why would anyone want to play for a club that has racist fans? even if they are only a small group.. what exactly would make you want to play your heart out for those people?.. it doesn’t make sense to me.. those west ham fans that were spewing hatred at the Lane are hypocrites.. they do realize they have like 3 or 4 Jewish players playing for their club right??..
    I’m glad I live in Canada… I have yet to witness any racism at our footie matches.. ..
    I remember when LA was playing in Toronto for the CL and we threw streamers at Becks.. the English media had a HEART attack.. well shit look whats going on over there?..maybe instead of streamers they would rather we had thrown Loonies at him?..
    all this bullshit makes our sport look horrible.. and it needs to stop.

  4. As an African American it seems real stupid of these fans to spew hatred towards. It seems to be totally different from here in the US where there is always gonna be those dumb racists in the stands but are quickly condemned.

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