There are times we just to have to let go of simple and usually unnecessarily sensationalised issues and I tried. I have been trying to do exactly that about the racism issues that ended up with FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, misspeaking. He is said to have said there is no racism in football and that racism can be settled by a handshake. He has since apoogised and lately declared the whole issue closed.
Generally, racism probably started as a genuine belief that blacks lack or have something whites have or lack. After centuries of proof that blacks are better at other things than whites, be it at random kind of patterns across any given spectrum or specific tasks, the idea that the perpetrators still use racial slurs in this day and age, actually shows that those who carry out acts and say these words, are just worse off than once thought.
Going back in time, Pele of Brazil, a black man from the slams of Rio de Janeiro, dominated the world football in an era when political racism was in fashion the world over. To assume he did not see or hear anything of the sort we see today would be a big lie. Eusebio might have been in a worse situation than Pele, given he outdid the Brazilian on several occasions and had African roots. Even at that, a statue was made in his honour in Portugal by white people who appreciated his talent regardless of race.
John Terry and Luis Suarez resorted to verbal abuse after failing to match the blacks for skill, and that is appalling. As many have already alluded, these are not isolated cases, but for the sake of progress, they have not been reported by the victims. If under the pressure of performance such utterances come forth, it is usually a case of a pressured cooker that gets cracked and burst. It comes all the way from home. You can be assured their children have that attitude too.
One thing for sure, no matter how much the black players do not believe they are inferior, or how much the white players do not actually believe it is their skin that makes them pass the ball better, mark their opponents well or score more goals, the bottom line is that as an insult, it will justifiably draw the biggest ire from all normal beings, black and white. It is as bad an insult as the one where one mentioned your mother.
I think of this as the line of thought of Sepp Blatter – to say that it is not a football phenomenon. It is there as a life problem. To compound to his woes, Sepp further miscommunicated by making another general comment about racism being ‘treated’ by a handshake. For all of us who are not opportunists, even if the whole sentence read like ‘Racism can be solved by a handshake’, of which it was not what he said, we would know that something is wrong, either in the words or in the meaning.
However, the English had the agenda and they feasted on that meal. After the slurs by Luis Suarez and John Terry, the FA were supposed to put their house in order before hypocritically making a ‘misspoken’ comment by Blatter. The way John Terry is defending is not even helping insulting any black player, no matter how small or dark that man is. God is not stupid and Suarez will be eating his pie soon, despite having scored 4 goals for Uruguay after his verbal antics.
Let us leave Blatter and talk the talk for a while. Racism is everywhere and rife in life. In other parts of the world, it is due to pure stupidity and one can no longer use the excuse of ignorance to be racist. In South Africa and other bits of the developing world, it is a political tool. Unfortunately, in most of the world, it can not be talked about or discussed openly. Usually, issues around that are sugar-coated and the whole story is artificially sweetened. Of the ignorant misinformed of the developed world, racism is words. Saying the words like ‘black, nigger, kaffir and monkey is what they call racism.
This can’t be further away from the truth. Racism is the idea, the (mis)understanding, the (mis)conception that whites are superior to blacks. Good works by blacks is chance and good work by whites is world order. It is only one way. There is a far-fetched South African idea that a black man can be racist. This caught up quickly in the west. There was never, and there will never be a situation where blacks think they are the superior race and therefore entitled to everything or that white are stupid because of their colour. They only fight to be equal, to be thought of as equals. Sadly, I have been in situations where after confronting a racist, the first response is; ‘What did I say?’ Again, it is not what you say, it is what you believe and unfortunately that translates to words when the situations turn ugly.
It is unfortunate that where black players excel and outwit the white counterparts, for the sake of the grave agitation emanating from such utterance, that the bad athlete resorts to insults. I genuinely think that those who chant and throw bananas at the stadia, know that blacks are not monkeys. They know blacks are gifted, able and complete to compete and excel. To gain the unfair advantage, they stoop so low to make up for their lack of talent and prowess.
To kick out such habits from stupid players and officials will be as hard as trying to deal with swearing. I know of one basketball team that have made strides to have a swear-free environment. The next thing will be trying to have a racist-free environment. Let us go back to John Terry. How many blacks play with him at Chelsea? They got to their best levels in years due to the African connection of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and many more others. If he really said what he said and meant it, what does it say to his black team mates? At the end of the day, for whatever reason, using race as a tool to bring a black brother down instead of outwitting them with integrity and skill, should never be allowed.
It is so unfortunate that the English FA did not do enough to deal with the Suarez and Terry issue, allowing the later to captain the national team under a cloud that is being inefficiently investigated. Calling for Blatter to resign while they sit in the boardroom is extremely hypocritical. Terry is still playing today and unless we say the complainant is a liar, the seriousness of allegations merits that high level attention and at best, the FA are sweeping the issue under the carpet, solving ‘racism by a handshake’.