Sport on by Mogan Segadavan
MY favourite lecturer of all time, Professor Marius Swartz of the then UPE, almost always started his lectures by saying in his deep resonating voice: “History is alive and well and around you.”
I suppose the same could be said for racism, especially in sport.
Over the weekend, Merseyside police arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with racial abuse directed at Tom Adeyemi, a young Oldham Athletic soccer player in the club’s FA Cup third round fixture against Liverpool.
Television footage showed the young player in tears as the match was stopped briefly. Both Oldham and Liverpool players were seen comforting him.
This incident comes shortly after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
Meanwhile England and Chelsea captain John Terry is facing criminal charges over allegations that he racially abused Queen’s Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a recent Premier League game. The incident is also being investigated by the FA.
After these incidents (Terry and Suarez), Fifa president Sepp Blatter put his foot in it when he said there was no racism in soccer and that what happens on the field should be sorted out with a handshake and left there. He subsequently apologised for the “misunderstanding”.
Three years ago, India spinner Harbhajan Singh was banned for three Tests after being found guilty of racial abuse by the ICC, for allegedly calling black Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds “a monkey”. Singh successfully appealed against the ban.
These are just a few incidents that have made headlines in recent years.
I am sure there are thousands of incidents (of racism) that are not reported.
Go to any match (especially soccer and rugby) locally and walk among the spectators. You can bet your last cent you will hear a racial taunt.
In the 1870s, the Americans came up with the melting pot theory – different cultures “melting together” into a harmonious whole with a common culture to describe the assimilation of immigrants to the United States.
In the 1970s, this theory was challenged by proponents of multiculturalism, proposing the alternative metaphor of the mosaic or salad bowl – different cultures mix, but remain distinct.
Perhaps this is why racism “is alive and well and around you”.