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What exactly is Blatter saying?





The other day, fans of an Italian team racially abused Ghanaian-born Kevin Prince Boateng. To show his displeasure, Boateng took off his shirt and walked off the field in disgust. The entire AC Milan squad walked off the pitch in solidarity and I salute them.

Now Fifa President Sepp Blatter has come out with subtle hints suggesting that Milan players were wrong in their radical and drastic action. I also recall one Michel Platini, a Fifa executive member and the boss of Uefa, threatening stern action against players who walk off the field in protest against abuse from racist spectators during the Uefa 2012 Championship.

What exactly are they telling us? We have experienced incidents in the past where players had to endure the indignity of listening to monkey chants directed at them and, in some instances, having to deal with myopic racist fans hurling bananas at them. Some have been verbally abused, their crime being of African origin.

A Russian club has issued a manifesto, in which they make it crystal clear that they consider themselves a pure and lily white club and cannot understand why African players are being forced down their throats. In plain and simple language, African players are not acceptable nor welcome at Zenit St Petersburg.

When this racial scourge reared its ugly head, the Fifa head honchos should have come up with drastic measures to curb it. If they were indeed serious about their so-called slogans of “Kick Racism Out”, they should have come up with measures aimed at dealing with those who adhere to this sickening practice.

I suggest they should have drawn up charges that any team, whose supporters are found guilty of racism, will have points from that game deducted and awarded to the team whose player was racially abused. If they are found guilty of a similar offense, then additional points will be deducted until their fans towed the line.

Perhaps they should also have added that a club whose supporters are found guilty of intentionally and maliciously racially abusing an African or Brazilan player, will be forced to play their next five or 10 home games behind closed doors.

But no, European authorities, including Blatter, have been going about this scourge in a wishy washy kind of way. They have looked this and that way as the situation escalated. I now get the impression that deep down they do not really consider racism such a serious offence against humanity.

Do they know what is it like to be considered inferior, uncouth and uncivilised and only fit to be swinging from tree to tree and not supposed to be sharing the same field with players of a different pigmentation?

African players have worked their way up the hard way and have earned the right to play for these European teams. They have not been signed by their teams as window dressing exercise or simply because the clubs liked their looks. No, they have been signed due to their exceptional talents and the belief by club owners that they could add value to their clubs.

They must not labor under the mistaken belief that they are doing African players a favour by signing them. They sign them because the African players can bring something different to their one-dimensional approach to the game.

For Blatter, who has in the past proclaimed himself a champion of the abused African players, to turn around and blame Boateng for walking off the field in protest smacks of double standards.

Or was Blatter not really genuine when he promised stern action against racists in the first place? Until strong action is taken against racist fans across Europe, we will continue to experience racism in many forms and, rather than admonish Boateng, the likes of Blatter should be praising him for taking a stance.


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