Penny-pinching racism in sports in the western world

Penny-pinching racism in sports in the western world


By Jide Osuntokun

The final of the Euro 2020 soccer competition between Great Britain and Italy was marred by racism which has been a growing cancer in sports in recent times mirroring the deep-seated racism in the wider society in the western world. The recent incident in London followed the loss by Britain of the championship match between her and Italy. The match ended in a 1–1 draw after expiry time and had to be decided by penalties. Anyone can lose a penalty and the whole thing is a game of chance. This is why only the strong-hearted players who can keep their nerves under control are chosen to take penalties. It was quite surprising that three blacks in the English team including a 19-year-old Bukayo Saka were chosen by their very experienced coach to represent their team. Alas, all the three misfired at the critical time thus causing England to lose the match.

Before the final, the English public had been worked up to a frenzy about the cup “coming home” after the last time England won a major tournament- the World Cup -at Wembley in a controversial final against West Germany in 1966. Even the restless Boris Johnson, the British prime minister had promised to declare a national holiday the following Monday to celebrate England’s conquest of Europe harking back to Britain’s exit from the European Union. The loss of the match was therefore a blow to Britain’s pride and honor in the football world bearing in mind that the game of football was even invented in England. The loss was too much for the fans to bear and apart from the traditional hooliganism of British soccer crowds which manifested in their beating up the few Italian fans they could get their hands on, they then took to the internet calling for the blood of the “three black monkeys” who brought the loss on England.

If any of the black players had been found, the mob would possibly have killed them. The fans then demanded that non-white players must never be fielded for the England’s team again. The English coach rose to defend his players, so did fellow players but the mob could not be placated and a mural in Manchester honouring footballer Marcus Rashford was vandalized with graffiti following England’s defeat. The seriousness of the situation was so much that both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition and Prince William issued statements condemning the rancorous racism shown by the English soccer fans.

Mr. Boris Johnson’s condemnation of the racist effusions were dismissed by blacks as shameless hypocrisy because of Boris Johnson’s earlier comment that there was no systemic racism in Great Britain whereas, every black person has been a victim of  ”systemic racism “ in the country and the incident of racism has been on the rise in England since Boris Johnson and his patron, Donald J. Trump came to power in the western world riding  on the wave of anti-black  and anti-immigrant sentiments if not total hatred  for foreigners.

Nationalism in the United States and Europe has been fueled by the feeling of nativist sentiments and white supremacist belief of threat against white privilege. Trump spent part of his four years of his presidency abusing black sportsmen taking the knee to protest against systemic racism in the USA and calling the white owners of their organization to fire them. He also used his presidential pulpit to abuse blacks to go back to the “shithole” countries of their ancestors. This pathetic feeling is not restricted to the Anglo-Saxon world but seems to cut across the whole world and it is present in Europe, Asia, in the Middle East, in the Americas, North and South, Australasia and on the African continent. People of darker hue, the so-called “visible minorities” seem to stand out wherever they find themselves and unlike other immigrants are not easily digested by the wider society with lighter skin colour. Even here there is broad spectrum of racism of mutual dislike between oriental people and Western and Eastern Europeans and their American cousins and it is within this context that one can locate antisemitism.

The inferiority of the darker skins dates back to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade when blacks were reduced to chattels and beasts of burden used to build modern capitalism in the Americas both North and South and in Europe particularly Great Britain  as well as France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. Germany is excluded because of its late unification in 1870 and because it was deprived of its colonies in Africa and New Guinea after the First World War.  However, the Germans have done the right thing by paying two billion Euros reparation to Namibia for their massacre of the Hereros in Namibia between 1885 and 1900 when they were the colonial power in German South West Africa.

Africans were not the first people to be enslaved. Western civilization was built on enslaving of conquered people going back to Ancient Greece. The point I am making is that as soon as the slaves were freed and because there was to racial chasm between the slaves and enslavers, the damaging stigma of racism arising from slavery did not endure. But the modern racism against blacks in sports arises principally from the modern history of white domination in Africa through colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. The second reason arises out of envy of black success in sports and athletics and entertainment generally and the humongous revenue derivable from it. The other targets of white racism like the Asians are not as successful in sports as the blacks. Asians generally are proving themselves equal to the whites in science and technology. The fact of the Chinese, Indian, North Korean and the Pakistani states being nuclear weapons states have made the whites to respect these people.

When I was a young man in Britain in the 1960s, the average Briton looked down on everybody but gradually one saw advertisements about vacant flats reading “Blacks, Chinese, Indians, Irish need not apply. Japs ok”. The British now accept the Chinese and Indians who are now major investors in Britain; they tolerate the Irish and still put the blacks at arms’ length. Until black people realise that power, both economic and military is what determines the status of people in the world, they will continue to be humiliated both at home and in the rest of the world.

The residue of colonial domination of the Irish by the British is what is responsible for the British dislike of the Irish. This mutual antipathy still dominates British policy towards the Irish Republic and the Irish Catholics stranded in Northern Ireland are presumably anxiously waiting for unification with their kith and kin in the Republic of Ireland to put an end to British humiliation of their people.

It is ironic that racists sometimes ignore common racial sameness but would emphasize cultural differences to build a wall against even people living in contiguous territory. This can be seen from the British treatment of the Irish as a wider definition of racism. The Anglo-Saxons generally looked down on the Slavic people who constitute the vast majority in Eastern Europe and on the Latin people in Southern Europe stretching from the French to the Italians, Spanish and Portuguese. In fact, northern Europeans sometimes look down on the Europeans in the south generally. The First and the Second World Wars were tangentially caused by racism of the Germans against the Slavic people. Today the rivalry between the United States and China are rooted in big power strategic competition and racism. For centuries the west feared the so-called “yellow peril” but nowadays the Western fear is not usually expressed in brutally frank racist slogan but it is understood by those deciding which country should be number one in the world. Even the United States which tend to see itself as upholder of liberalism does not totally accept its citizens of Asian origin whether Indian, Chinese, and Japanese.

In Africa whether North or South of the Sahara, the evil of racism is well and alive. In the North, we have discrimination of Arabs against Berbers and blacks and South of the Sahara, racism and ethnic hatred are not distinguishable. The Hutu slaughtering of Tutsis in the inter lacustrine region around the Great Lakes in East Africa was rooted in racist sentiments in which one group calls for the wiping out of another. Even in other parts of Africa including Nigeria, our so-called problems of tribalism are forms of sickening racism which need to be cured and dissipated by education that emphasizes the common humanity of all people despite height, language, texture of hair and what food one eats.

Racism is almost innate in man and no race can claim absolute freedom from it. It is only a matter of degree. Racism is a cancer to which no one or government has found a cure. Legislation may hide the evil but it will not end it unless there is an equilibrium in economic accessibility and power as well as physical  power that is diffused and not concentrated in the hands of a particular race.

Source: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

#Pennypinching #racism #sports #western #world

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