Monday, February 27, 2006

How racism can ruin a league

This past weekend saw something spectacular happen in the Spanish League. FC Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o almost walked off the pitch due to the onslaught of racist chants being hurried at him by the crowd at Zaragoza. The spectacular thing is that his team rallied to his side, saying that, "If he had gone, I suppose we would all have followed."

Could this be the best way to fight racism by fans? Much the same way as African-American performers refused to play in front of segregated crowds in the south, can refusal to play finally send the message that Eto'o was seen mouthing during the match, "No more"?

To that same end, what if a whole league, in this case the Spanish League, was given the "Sun City" treatment? If the best players refused to play there, regardless of skin color, could that change things? Would those in Spain who love the game finally take it on themselves to stop the chanting and mocking and tell those who try to do such things to shut up?

I don't know, but something must be done beyond little slogans.

I completely believe that you cannot legislate away racism, but you can make it unacceptable. Leagues need to confront the racism during the matches and if need be remove large amounts of fans. If they will not do such things, then the next step is for players to stay away.

Also on the racism front, Israel is launching a campaign to rid their league of anti-Arab elements. As the article points out, this will be a difficult sell.


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