In DepthColumnsFootbal: Racism at the Euros


Posted on Sunday, 10 June 2012 09:39

Footbal: Racism at the Euros

William Manful

Michel Platini's response to the risk of racial abuse meted out to players of African origin in the upcoming European championships was disappointing to say the least.

At a time when the continent particularly the world of football is expressing concern about the possibility of the continental showpiece being marred by neo-Nazi and white supremacist activities the UEFA boss contends in a BBC interview that racism is a 'society problem, not a football problem' which is to say that it is the duty of society to shoulder the burden of combating racism not football bodies such as the one he heads.

Calling on referees to call off matches when spectators engage in racist abuse of players does not hide Platini's nonchalance towards the issue of racism in European football. The issue has assumed critical proportions largely because for far too long it has not been treated with the seriousness that it deserves.

The bigger concern in all of this though is the correlation that seems to exist between Platini's posturing and a general continental attitude that treats racism with general apathy.

Football has a very big role to play towards the elimination of racial bigotry

 Luis Suarez's repeated use of the word 'negrito' may have landed him into trouble but similar incidents have occurred in the Spanish la Liga and the Italian Serie A attracting little punitive measures if any at all.

UEFA's inability to effectively combat racism within the structures of European football therefore merely projects the continents failure to develop adequate policies to arrest the menace of racial intolerance.

Unbeknownst to Michel Platini and his cohorts at UEFA, football has a very big role to play towards the elimination of racial bigotry and must indeed play a leading role towards the renovation of race relations on the continent.

The fact that, Ghanaian born Italian striker, Balotelli has decided to walk off the pitch in case he is racially abused during the Euros already indicates UEFA's failure to root out racism from the ranks of European football as well as a continent that is not adjusting well to racial diversity.

The world still awaits a time when players of African origin like Balotelli and Danny Welbeck of England can walk out onto the field of play without worrying about the chants and hateful cries of white supremacists.

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 June 2012 09:56

William Manful

William Manful

William Manful is a human rights advocate committed to the democratization of Africa. He has worked as a contributing columnist for afrik- and talkafrique. He holds degrees in french and spanish as well as international relations from the University of Cambridge. Mr manful also writes on philosophy, sports and cinema. He is currently working for the Government of Ghana.


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