Racism in Sports - America Vs. Europe

If you think America has a problem with racism, try comparing us to continental Europe sometimes. They make American race issues look like friendly misunderstandings. Nearly a year ago there was a football (aka soccer) game in Madrid in which the British team, which consisted of several black team members, were playing against the spanish team, which consisted of all spaniards. Apparently racist badgering of black players is fairly common at these games. The difference was in this case that while usually its only a small percentage of the crowd badgering the players this time it was estimated to be 90 percent of the crowd (of 50,000) shouting racist remarks.

Those remarks consisted of making monkey noises whenever a black team member got the ball, throwing bananas at black players, and chants of "If you are not fking black, jump up and down." Since the story is almost a year old many of you have probably already heard of it. Personally I only heard of it because I happened to catch an episode of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" - is it just me or does "real sports" and "Bryant Gumbel" seem like an odd combination.

For this particular piece Bryant himself went to England to interview white supremists and some officials from the sport. Among the myriad of stupid questions that he asked about how this could be going on in 2005, and what these people would say to an American audience who found it appalling, he did uncover some interesting tidbits. First of all dozens of racist groups actually recruit at these games, and claim whole sections of stadiums for their adherents. Many of them sport swastikas, display fascist and hitler salutes, and even hold up signs that reference the holocaust at typical football games.

At one point in the show Bryant interviews one of the league's star players who happens to be black, and talks about how he could see this happening in America 50 years ago but not in 2005. Yet I don't think we were that bad 50 years ago, at least not at your typical sporting event. Maybe I'm wrong but I haven't heard of cases in the U.S. where an entire crowd at a sporting event was chanting racist remarks or even of large groups at games displaying racist propaganda and insignia.

Meanwhile I was watching an episode of "The War at Home" the other day in which they were poking fun at America's race issues. In it the main character's daughter dated one of his black neighbors which set both parents on edge. The first because he'd rather his daughter date a jewish boy, and the latter because he'd rather his son date a black girl. The best part of the show however was when the main character discovered he couldn't get into a country club that his neighbor was in because he was jewish. In response to this he decided to point out that his neighbor was the only black family at an all white country club. The neighbor's response was "I'd rather be a token black at an all-white country club, than a white guy that has to play on public golf courses."

Clearly we've come a long way.

[Edited - Bryant Gumbel, of course. :)]

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Nothing like seeing a bunch

Nothing like seeing a bunch of Spaniards giving the fascist salute to make you believe in how sport brings people "together".

Snarky, By your logic you


By your logic you should be calling soccer "handless ball". If you are going to name soccer by the parts of the body allowed to touch the ball then "Head ball" or "Ass ball" would be fine too. :) Although "Head ball" sounds like a euphemism for a BJ.

Wow if its not the spelling

Wow if its not the spelling police, its the "vernacular" police... :roll:

"Soccer" is, itself, a limey

"Soccer" is, itself, a limey term...it's just one that's fallen out of use over there, though for for strange reason, we continue to perpetuate it. It comes from the peculiarly British habit of wanting to abbreviate absolutely everything (see..."Ab Fab," "All Mod Cons," etc.) Could you imagine an American, with a straight face, calling it "assoc" football? No way in hell.

The TERM "soccer" is far more foreign to the American way of life than the game is, and we should just give it up, post haste.

Yet I don’t think we were

Yet I don’t think we were that bad 50 years ago, at least not at your typical sporting event. Maybe I’m wrong but I haven’t heard of cases in the U.S. where an entire crowd at a sporting event was chanting racist remarks or even of large groups at games displaying racist propaganda and insignia.

Well, 60 years ago, non-white people weren't even allowed to play, which I'm not sure is any better. And there are plenty of stories from the forties and fifties of, e.g., black baseball players being pretty relentlessly abused by fans during games (which doesn't even mention the fact that in places like St. Louis they couldn't stay in the same hotel or eat in the same restaurant as their white teammates). So I'm not sure I buy the argument that "America wasn't this bad even 50 years ago."

That having been said, I think the main point is essentially valid.

Snarky, Good lord, give it a


Good lord, give it a rest.

Aha, but you don't say

Aha, but you don't say "futbol," you say "football." Nor do you say "raza" instead of "race." Just like you don't say "boot" when you mean "trunk." Or "tyre," "petrol," and "lift." And when you say "pissed," I bet you mean angry rather than drunk. And I don't see you applying the quirky phrasing of Indian English (of which there are far more speakers than American and British English combined). Since you can't please everybody, you write in your or your audience's vernacular.

Yes, the internet is without borders. And I'm just positive there are hundreds of thousands of Britons reading this right now and thinking, "What's this lot on about? What the 'ell is 'soccer?'" And just as many Tejanos thinking, "Que la chingada es 'football?'" But I would take your argument more seriously if your article hadn't been so clearly written for an American audience. You reference an American celebrity, two American TV shows, and use phrases like "we've come a long way."

Anyway, was your usage of "football" really confusing? Of course not. If you look at my original comment, I'm pretty clearly just teasing you. But I really struck a vein of humorlessness and pretension in you people.

But don't worry: at least the legions of hooligans, welfare statists, and racists won't think you guys are provincial.

And jeez... given the

And jeez... given the content of Rainbough's post, *should* we really be upholding European attitudes about soccer?

Fifty-thousand racist Spaniards can't be wrong?

Well, "football" is the

Well, "football" is the official term for American Football, of course, so I won't stop using that term here regardless of the mechanics of the sport.

To use "meaningful" language often involves cultural applicability more than some metaphysical precision. For Americans- the overwhelming audience of this blog, I'm sure- it's more meaningful to call the NFL "football" and that other thing "soccer."

It's linguistically valid to adapt pronounciation and diction to the relevant audience, even for foreign nouns. Which is why we say "Rome" instead of "Roma" and "Paris" instead of "Paree," unless we're being total pricks.

If I were addressing our European cousins, of course, I would say "football" instead of "soccer." And they're free to call (American) football "yankball" or "cowboy oval chase" if it makes more sense to them.

But thanks for the "furriners" ad hominem. Yes, we're clearly rednecks if we don't adopt alien cultural standards for discourse among ourselves.

From now on I'll keep my "petty blasphemy" to myself. I'm not sure what I've blasphemed, but thanks for letting me know my good-natured post was petty.

Hi Snarky, Soccer is

Hi Snarky,

Soccer is officially Association Football (as opposed to Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, American Football, etc) so the usage is valid. Secondly, please leave the snark & petty blasphemy at home while you're visiting our humble comments sections.

Quit calling a sport

Quit calling a sport "football" when using one's foot on the ball is an exception, not a regular occurrence, and when it makes you completely unintelligible outside 'Merica (or when talkin' to furriners inside). You use meaningful language, for chrissake. Call it "armorball".

Bryant, not Brian. And quit

Bryant, not Brian. And quit saying "football" when you mean "soccer." You live in Austin, for chrissake.

Given the lack of confusion

Given the lack of confusion regarding what sport I am referring to I really don't see any reason to not use the European terminology especially since I am referring to occurrences regarding the sport in Europe.

Now I could presume that my audience is all-american, but even if I did I've encountered more than a few people here in Texas with "Futbol" t-shirts. I've even seen "Futbol" billboards, that were in fact referring to soccer.

So before we go too far in discussing what words are appropriate for the supposed audience of this blog, and what terms us Americans like to use, we might stop and consider that America is broader than what we see on television. Also we might consider that the idea of limiting oneself to the terminology used within certain geographic borders when communicating in a medium that has no such borders (i.e. the internet), when it is not necessary to do so (for the sake of clarity or to avoid confusion) is next to nonsensical.

Ha, I was just being a

Ha, I was just being a smartass, but I'm with Brill - back to the content of the post: The first time I was in Europe, I noticed a black man one day and realized that he was the first non-white person I had seen in 3 weeks. It suddenly came to me how easy it is to preach about race relations when you don't actually have to relate to any other races. Frankly, after experiencing a more integrated Spain (more integrated than Germany/Austria/Switzerland, that is), I'm a little surprised that it goes on there to the extent described above.

And English food would be shite if it weren't for the Indians.

enough talk about the word

enough talk about the word "soccer", "football", "Futball", why are we argueing the political correctness of a word that we can undertand either way we say it.

The focus of his article and of Real Sports with bryant, was that there is a HUGE amount of racism in europe compared to America. All the time when people in America are giving speeches or even teaching about racism in school, they say that racism almost doesnt exist in europe. I think we have all come to realize this is not true at all. Also they refer to WWII when they say that black soldiers from America were not treated bad. tHIS WAS BECAUSE ALL THOSE WHO WOULD HAVE TREaTED THEM BAD WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WAR.... sorry caps, i kinda lazy to re type that. Anyways its been 50 years since that war and the nazi's of europe have blended through out the continent.