Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Cup Racism

The most watched soccer tournament in the world, the World Cup, opened with fears that violent racism could upstage the great event & humiliate Germany, the host.
The increasing number of attacks on non-whites in Germany, in combination with a bout of racist taunting of black soccer players, has set the stage for an unprecedented showing of racism on a global sports stage.
Neo-Nazis have been buzzing with ideas of using the World Cup as a political platform since the day Munich was awarded the World Cup.
The German goverment ignored the Neo-Nazi's talk, choosing instead to prepare for the corporate jack pot that comes with the World Cup. The current racist climate could have easily been predicted & dealt with if the German officials would have cared as much as they do about the financial aspect of the World Cup.
There has been a growing pattern of "football racism" across the world. In late February, Cameroonian FC Barcelona star Samuel Eto'o almost walked off the field after being showered by people in the stands with monkey chants & peanuts. And, last November, Messina's Marc Zoro picked up the ball & threatend to walk off the field due to racist chants from followers of Inter Milan.
And although these are the most publicized stories, there are countless tales of players of African origin being treated horribly. Even U.S. star DaMarkus Beasley has recounted tales of monkey noices & banana peels being thrown at him every time his foot touches the ball.
Former Coleraine FC & Brown University soccer player, Shaun Harkin, now works as an immigrant rights activist in Chicago. He says, " The racist abuse players have faced across Europe is an aspect of the growing backlash against immigrants. Immigration from former European colonies has grown. As in the U.S., immigration has been necessary for many European economies and a source of cheap labor- but immigrant communities have also been a conveinent political scapegoat in a continent riddled with unemployment and increasingly anxious conditions for workers dealing with the reprocussions of deepening neoliberal policies."
Uwe-Karsten Haye, co-founder of the antiracist group Show Your Face & former spokesperson for the Social Democratic-Green coalition goverment, said, " There are small and mid-sized towns in Brandenburg and elsewhere where I would advise anyone (in the country for the World Cup) with a different skin color not to go. They might not make it out alive."
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble promised that his goverment would "not tolerate any form of extremism, xenophobia, or anti-Semitism." Schauble's solution is to station tanks outside soccer stadiums. As if somehow that is going to deter "fans" inside the stadium, or racists spread out around the country.
FIFA, the international soccer body, has made quite ridiculous attempts to combat the racism at the World Cup by having 2 "antiracism" days, where banners will be draped at each game reading "Say No To Racism"- the banners would be taken down at the beginning of the game, defeating the purpose.
Although the goverments & soccer organizations aren't doing much to combat racism, the actual players are.
French soccer star Thierry Henry wore an armband promoting an antiracist campaign called "Stand Up Speak Up". He also talked his sponsor Nike to produce black & white armbands, so far over 5 million have been sold.
FARE, Football Against Racism in Europe, said on their website that they " want to see the beautiful game played without the cancer of racism."
But if we want to stomp out racism in soccer, the goverments need to help out too, not just the antiracist organizations & actual players.