Monday, May 09, 2005

football and the emotions of men

It was at the Bernabau last autumn that the excesses of spanish racism were so clearly made visible during the England-Spain match, the one where a shocking, salty scale of abuse operated on a kind of sliding scale of application - where England's black players were tolerated to varying levels according to the darkness of their skin pigmentation. Rio Ferdinand got off (comparitively) lightly. Shaun Wright-Phillips did not.

The Spanish FA never really made any serious attempt to disclipine their fans (or their national coach, Aragones, who called Thierry Henry a 'black shit' a couple of weeks earlier). And racist chants continue. Indeed, they are on the increase in Spain.

Now the Observer has published a really excellent, exhaustive article on racism in football, and it's well worth a read:

"Football is the fault line of racism in Europe. No other activity, be it cultural or political, commands the emotion, passion and allegiance, certainly of men, in the same way. Football is the cultural lingua franca of European men. Far from being some kind of hermetically sealed hobby on the periphery of society, a phenomenon only of interest to those who read the sports pages, football is an exemplar of society: it mirrors and gives expression to society's passions and prejudices in a way that politics, for example, is, for the most part, quite unable to do. Indeed, it is about the only activity in which men collectively and publicly express their own emotions. What happened in the Bernabéu exposed, in all its raw crudity, the prejudices that inform Spanish society. Official, polite society - parliament, the media and the rest - contains, channels, constrains and seeks to deny these prejudices. Football reveals them".

Plenty more thoughtful and revealing stuff: here's the article in full.

No comments: