It is pleasing to see that football fans the world over are not in the mood to accept FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s apology for his comments over racism in football.
On the one front, the fans can finally have a voice and unite around the world to let him know that this time he has gone too far. He is constantly putting his foot in his mouth, and bringing the game into disrepute, but what sanction does he suffer?
As fans we have had to witness his comment that female footballers should wear tighter shorts to make the game more appealing back in 2004. Then we have had to endure his response to John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy over allegations of an affair with a teammate’s girlfriend.
“Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries,” he said. “If this had happened in, let’s say, Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded.”
Ten months later in December 2010 he advised gay fans to “refrain from any sexual activities” during the World cup in 2022 which will be hosted by Qatar a country where homosexuality is illegal.
These comments come in addition to the embarrassment he and his cronies have brought to the game by feathering their own nests while in positions of power within the game. Sadly those running the game in most of the FIFA affiliated countries lack the moral fortitude to address this issue and remove a man who is bringing scorn upon the game, so maybe it is time that the players, professional and amateur, as well as coaches found a voice and brought their collective pressure to bear in their own back yards and on the World’s stage as well.
QPR Manager Neil Warnock’s suggestion that all black players refuse to play in their country’s next international has merit, but why not have all international players, irrespective of colour or religion stand united and support their fellow players by not playing and showing such comments are unacceptable and that a simple apology is not enough?
The one pleasing thing is his comments have put racism centre stage. It is an issue that needs ongoing attention and education. Yes, FIFA and various bodies have certainly made inroads in eradicating it, but it sadly still exists, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding himself or herself.
In Australia the game as a whole is a victim of racism. Football was the game adopted by the immigrants who came to Australia, as it was a sport that was familiar to them, unlike Australian Rules and Cricket. They built their communities around their football clubs and this country owes them a great debt for the work they put in to take us to where we are today. They created a sense of community and belonging, and there is an argument that says that we could do with this back in our lives.
In the 1950’s in Melbourne VFL clubs were told to secure as much public space to stop football being played because it was deemed “Un-Australian.”
Football is the sport of choice of the new 21st century immigrant to this country, again because it is the World game and it is something that is familiar to them, and a place where they can form an identity and make friends. Yet the media, as they did in the 50’s is in the main petrified of promoting the game, for fear that it will harm games that are deemed as “Australian.” If Australia has a national team that plays on the word stage surely that sport is Australian?
If not please explain what it does mean to be Australian?
Football reflects our diverse multicultural society. Football truly reflects Australia, people from many nations and religions, of different skin colours and sexes coming together to watch and play what is undoubtedly one of the simplest games ever invited.
Racism comes in many forms, it is often not just a comment made about someone’s skin colour, but it is nearly always born out of ignorance and fear. Many running the game have worked hard to get the game where it is today, where most people will not tolerate it, but we should never rest on our laurels and must continue the education process.
Part of that process is to have a leader who understands the meaning of the word and the ramifications of ill placed comments.