Dani Alves gets a lot of flack. Some Barcelona fans want him to shut up and sign his contract extension already. Commentators and fans think he dives and whines too much. For some reason, the Brazilian managers seem to believe Maicon is a better option on the right. I guess they haven’t been awake since the middle of the World Cup? And finally some fans seem to think he is a monkey of some kind? This morning, The Spoiler reported that our lovable Dani reported in an interview that he regularly hears racist taunts from fans in opposing stadia. To quote the man:
“Unfortunately, I have learned how to live with it. Every match the crowd goes after me. They insult me, call me monkey.”
“I don’t give it a lot of importance. I think you are only offended if you make a big deal about it. My family gets sad. They complain, but I try to distance myself from it.”
“They punish the clubs sometimes, but it’s uncontrollable. It will never end.”
This is unacceptable.
Look, I am not going to insult either of our intellects and pretend that racism is gone from the world today, or even from industrialized nations. It most certainly is not, as the above quotes go to show. We also know that our ex-striker, and still fan favorite, Samuel Eto’o has consistently suffered racism from Spanish and Italian fans throughout his time in the professional leagues. The most famous incident in Spain was against Real Zaragoza where Samu became so upset, he threatened to walk off the field, before eventually being calmed by Ronaldinho, Rijkaard, and the referee. Then last year, Samu was the victim of more awful comments from someCagliari fans who began racist chants at the beginning of the match before the referee halted the match and warned that further racism would result in a match suspension. Thereafter, other, more organized Cagliari fans chanted loudly to drown out the racists and Samu scored the game winner.
Thierry Henry has also suffered from racism throughout his career, and has spent a good bit of that professional career fighting racism and leading FIFA to make attempts (although in my opinion they are entirely in word only and have no real backing) to stamp racism out of the game. Famously, Luis Aragones horrifically referred to him as a “black shit” in a training session and Henry became an outspoken opponent of racism in football, starting the “Stand Up Speak Up” campaign with Nike.
However, these high profile incidents have apparently not done the trick yet. Racism remains an undercurrent of the game that affects many players, from the largest leagues of Europe, to the smallest ones in Africa and Asia. It should be seen as an abhorrent practice to all fans, firstly because it shows the worst, most ignorant part of humanity, and secondly (way behind the first part), because it makes all fans look bad. The fact that it is happening to some of our current and former players should only make it hit home more, and give us more cause to call it out when we see it.
Right now the only thing we can do is to make it publicly known that we know this is going on, that we openly and outrightly oppose it, and that we will not stand by it. If other Barcelona fans make racist comments, we should and will call them out for their ignorance. This goes beyond a shirt or a club, it’s about humanity and attempting to banish it from the game, period. We must bring this to the forefront so that we do not forget that it still happens and it still affects players and many fans who surely suffer the ill affects as well. As fans of a club that, in some ways, has taken steps to stop racism, we should feel proud, but we must go farther in our actions by making it known to everyone and taking a stand. I wanted to keep this brief and I hope that our fans and readers who have suffered from racism will let it be known so that we can out those who are doing it, at stadia and everywhere else. They should receive lifetime bans from stadia, clubs that allow it continue should be sanctioned with empty stadium matches and financial punishments, and players who are a part of this should be suspended for as long as possible. There are no excuses here. Differences between the races have long ago been proven false and the idea of eugenics is a scientific mockery.
I’ll simply leave you with the wise words of Spurs manager Harry Redknapp:
“That is disgusting – there’s no place for that in the game. Surely we can’t have that sort of behaviour now? Anyone who does it should be put in prison – not banned from football. Stick them where they belong, in the nut-house. It’s wrong.”
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images Europe