Roll up! Roll Up! It's the Euro 2012 racism bandwagon, temporary morals available for all

Juve fans held a banner saying 'A negro cannot be Italian', they better not hold a tournament in Italy eh? (not same pic)

 

Euro 2012, regardless of what happens from now until the end, will be forever associated with racism. Disgusting chants during a Dutch training session have made sure of that, any incident which can be labelled as racist will be and news organisations are actively on the lookout for things that can be categorised that way.

Fans, the media, the public, footballers, and even politicians, are outraged. You'd be forgiven for thinking racism directed at players in football grounds was something our sensitive souls hadn't encountered before. 

Some players may be interested in saying the right thing or perhaps they've had a moral enlightening. To be fair to those on the pitch they can often only answer the questions put to them by the media but if they felt so strongly about racism this week then it's a shame they weren't comfortable in saying so when they've experienced it previously.

For that, we all have to take a look at our reactions to previous incidents. I'm not suggesting for one minute that Mark van Bommel was jumping on a bandwagon with his comments about chants directed to Dutch players whilst training this week, he was genuinely angry. 

I have no doubt he's been genuinely upset about this before, he will have heard chants from the crowd in other countries he's played and I've tried but I can't any record of him speaking so publicly about it. This isn't putting the blame on him, why should he start a one man crusade in Spain or Italy? The press have never asked him about it before, but now it matters.

Mario Balotelli was the subject of much racist abuse whilst playing in Serie A but now he feels people are on his side he's more comfortable speaking up about it and making threats to withdraw himself from the match. He certainly didn't feel this support when it was happening in Italy.

A Guardian article about him in 2010 said:

Juventus supporters once held up a banner about Balotelli with the words: "A Negro cannot be Italian." Another bearing the message "No to a multi-ethnic national team" was confiscated at the international match against Romania.

"I do not know what more I can say about these things," Balotelli said. "Maybe these people came to the game because they do not even have a television set at home. I've learned through experience that it is better to ignore them and pretend nothing has happened but thank God I do not have to know the people who are insulting me."

The Italian media, he said, should do more to identify the issue. "From Manchester, I'd prefer to see them debate the problem of racism more than they debate my girlfriends."

Let's get some things clear. It's disgraceful that some people are still stuck in a time where they feel it's ok to express disaproval to somebody based on their colour, that this happens in football stadiums where there's tens of thousands of others and countless security employees is even worse, they feel they can get away with it as part of the mob.

That clearly needs eradicating.

We only get tournaments every two years so is the push for racial equality in football a biennial event which is put back in the box by most countries after the intense glare of the media has gone? Upon returning to their clubs are players suddenly less willing to tackle the issue and the media less excited about reporting it? Perhaps morals are only important in the game when they're commercially viable.

Last August during El Clasico - a fixture which over the past few years can genuinely be described as the biggest football match in Europe - there were easily audible monkey chants. Let's take that situation and transfer it to now, if Ashley Young was racially abused by local fans tomorrow night, not a thing was done and he lost the plot and got a red card for a rash tackle, and then afterwards the authorities did little or nothing about it - what would be the reaction?

There would be talk of calling the tournament off. That's regardless of him being English, I'm sure a similar situation with Mario Balotelli or anyone else would lead the press of Western Europe to unite in saying this was the worst example of how a football match should be staged. UEFA would be labelled as incompetent and positively evil, they would be accused of ruining the game and our respect for it. 

But we've had situations to be this outraged about in the past. During that El Clasico match last August, Marcelo widely received monkey chants. Juventus fans were at the centre of similar situations as they raced to the Serie A title, Benfica supporters dished out disgusting racist abuse to Hulk. We published an article about the El Clasico called 'Shush! Don't mention the racism in Spanish football', here's a few extracts:

This morning as everyone picks up the pieces of yet another El Clasico descending into farce, they'll be a little bit forgotten. A facet that isn't backed up by images of faces contorted in anger. A fault that hasn't been displayed by a superstar. There's no YouTube videos or stills we can show to demonstrate the problem, it's not so easy for consumption by eye. Yet in everything that happened last night it's the most worrying, the most important.

Once again a game in Spain has been played to a backdrop of selective monkey chants. Monkey chants, the racist's equivalent of knuckle dragging. Fully grown adults stand in unison and go 'ooo ooo ooo' or whatever way they choose to do it.

Last night the subject of their fury was Marcelo. A 23 year old from Brazil who had the nerve to be black and play for the opposition, the chants started quickly and were consistent, easily audible through the television. A commentator addressed them after a few occurrences by labelling it 'unfortunate'. To be fair to him, it's rather more than unfortunate but he didn't have the opportunity to go into further detail. Perhaps a slightly heavier condemnation would help, if it was a British game then I'm quite sure people wouldn't hesitate to call the offenders scum.

Marcelo later get sent off for a rash challenge, would be impossible to know if the racist abuse had made his blood boil leading to that. It's certainly a possibility.

In a big game so much as a dirty look on the pitch or an odd looking person in the crowd can lead to Twitter going mad, yet my Twitter timeline was silent about this. I started tweeting about it, many agreed. However many reacted like I'd just dismissed Spanish football generally, kicking the puppy that many including myself have grown so fond of.

It's good that the game has suddenly found a conscience when it comes to this issue, for whatever reason. It'll be interesting to see if those outraged now will be equally incandescent when it next happens during a big European club game, because unfortunately it will. 

If the issue of racism is put back in the box after Euro 2012, when it doesn't get website hits or sell newspapers, then it's been the worst kind of bandwagon and all the moral backslapping won't be so fulfilling. 

 

This was penned by Annie Eaves. Follow Annie on Twitter @AnnieEaves and get irrationally annoyed when you disagree with her. 

 

Here's a few examples, for those interested, of some of the disgusting treatment dished out during club football matches in some of Europe's biggest leagues.

First up, some Benfica fans revel - they do, look at the excitement on their little faces - in directing monkey chants at Hulk. This is one of Europe's biggest club games.

 

 

Marcelo, as mentioned in the article, receives widespread monkey chants at the Camp Nou. He'd been getting it throughout the game.

 

 

Mario Balotelli, having reportedly received monkey chants earlier on in the match, scores for Inter Milan against Bologna and the chants quickly return.

 

 

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