1293: Racism: We are hypocrites if w
by : Alex Kay
Racism is intolerable. What happened in Madrid on Wednesday night was disgusting. Maybe Graham Taylor was right. Maybe Sven should have dragged the players off the pitch. Maybe Spanish supporters should be banned from internationals for the foreseeable future. Britain was totally appalled by the booing of black players in the Bernabeu, and rightly so, but perhaps it is not only a little easy to criticise, but a tad hypocritical.
It was not so long ago, in 1987 when England fans threw bananas at John Barnes in a match against San Marino. Since then, racism has been seemingly successfully suppressed at British football matches. Black players are, for the most part treated as equals in British society, and on a football pitch. It is easy to forget however that things were not always like this, and that, like Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Cole, and England’s other black players, top flight players were regularly the subject of abuse.
Fortunately, Britain’s right wing element has now adapted to a multicultural society, hence the shock that reverberated around British living rooms, pubs and press boxes on Wednesday night. It is very easy to find something morally unacceptable, when your mindset moved past such thoughts a long time ago.
In Spain however, circumstances are very different. Multiculturalism is a new phenomenon. In fact, journalist Guillem Balague wrote about the Spaniards that ‘we are still in nappies with these things, and have a naivety’. Spain only became vaguely multicultural after the end of the Franco era in 1975, about the same time that black players were receiving abuse on the terraces in Britain. Even today in Spain, it is difficult to find many black people in Spain who aren’t consigned to selling sunglasses on the side of the road. Spain, like the majority of Eastern European countries has not fully adapted to the idea of equality amongst different races, and this often comes to the forefront at football matches.
Of course we should not tolerate this sort of behaviour or condone it any way, shape or form; however, we should remember that we are just further along the road of anti racism than Spain, as we have been lived in a multicultural society for longer. Black footballers and black people in general received the same, if not worse treatment than the England players on Wednesday night, and we should not forget that as we hound the Spanish Football Association and the Spanish people. Britain also suffered from the same flaws.
It is now up to UEFA, FIFA and Spanish football to teach the Spanish supporters that racism is wrong, and that goes for many other countries too. Britain may have moved on from the peak of its racist era, and whilst we should remember how privileged we are to be live in such an environment, we should also remember that we too were by no means perfect before we go casting too much judgement from on high.