Racism and Anti-Semitism in Euro Soccer Essay

Racism in Euro Soccer

According to numerous sources, including eyewitnesses, journalists and soccer fans, there is blatant racism, xenophobic behavior and anti-Semitism associated with Euro Soccer. This paper uses the available literature to point out instances of ugly behaviors, what people are saying about it and what perhaps can be done about it. The stories referenced in this paper were written prior to the 2012 Euro Soccer championships in Eastern Europe, but they accurately reflect the serious social problems based on bigotry and hatred shown by many fans.

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Racism in Euro Soccer

According to numerous sources, including eyewitnesses, journalists and soccer fans, there is blatant racism, xenophobic behavior and anti-Semitism associated with Euro Soccer. This paper uses the available literature to point out instances of ugly behaviors, what people are saying about it and what perhaps can be done about it. The stories referenced in this paper were written prior to the 2012 Euro Soccer championships in Eastern Europe, but they accurately reflect the serious social problems based on bigotry and hatred shown by many fans.

CBS in Chicago reports that “Monkey chants directed at a black player” while he was warming up would never be tolerated in the National Football League (Bernstein, 2012). It is “entirely unimaginable,” Bernstein explains, to witness an African-American player being hounded by fans shouting racist slogans in the U.S., notwithstanding what a “shameful history of slavery” went on in America years ago.

But in Krakow in 2012 this kind of racism is apparently tolerated, given that a player from the Czech Republic, Theodor Gebre Selassie was harassed with a “monkey-chant” (Bernstein). The racist chants apparently come from the “far-right nationalism” movement; they don’t wear Ku Klux Klan outfits but they carry and wave swastikas, and they do the hated Nazi salutes as well (Bernstein).

A quote from one of the persons (the coach of Ukraine, Oleg Blokhin) who “exemplifies” the attitudes of the racist crowds and players tells the bigoted side of the story quite well: the Euro Soccer League doesn’t want “…some Zumba-bumba whom they took off a tree, gave him two bananas and now he’s playing in the Ukrainian League” (Bernstein).

Apparently Polish soccer fans are tolerant of the “…racism and anti-Semitism” that takes place in their stadiums, Bernstein explains.

Meanwhile an article in the Los Angeles Times (Baxter, 2012) points out that the racism and anti-Semitism associated with Euro Soccer has “…resulted in international condemnation and embarrassment — much of it aimed at Ukraine.” But Baxter asserts that getting the discussion out into the public arena is a good thing, in an ironic way. The British documentary that ran before the 2012 soccer tournament showed soccer fans from Poland and Ukraine “displaying racist and anti-Semitic attitudes that included the vicious beating of Asian and dark-skinned fans” (Baxter, p. 1).

One player of color, Italy’s Mario Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian descent, “promised to take matters into his own hands” if rowdy hooligans attack him with vicious racist rhetoric. “I will not accept racism at all,” he stated, recalling that he was once “pelted by bananas in a Rome bar.” He told reporters that he will “kill” anyone in the street throwing a banana at him during the tournament (Baxter, p. 1).

The President of the UEFA, Michel Platini told the press referees will stop the matches if players are abused by fans. “There is more and more nationalism in Europe,” Platini said. “You can feel it at the matches. There are some worries. Some big worries” (Baxter, p. 1). Part of the disappointment of the Euro matches is that this was designed to be “the East Bloc’s coming-out party, one that burnished its image and welcomed it into the community of nations as a full partner,” Baxter writes. Instead of a coming out party, it has turned out to be a “costly embarrassment” for the East Bloc (Baxter, p. 2).

The New York Times reported in May, 2012, that a “…complicated racial issue has arisen” because the families of two black players from England announced they do not plan to attend the tournament. Why are they staying away? They fear “…abuse or violence in Ukraine”; and the reason for their fear was played out recently in a BBC documentary, which “…has further inflamed emotions” in England (Longman, 2012). Along with the BBC documentary, one of England’s best players, John Terry, is facing a criminal charge of being racially abusive to an opponent who was a man of color (during a club match in 2011); this has also stirred emotions in England, Longman explains.

There was good reason for people in Great Britain to be concerned about racial abuse in Ukraine because one third of England’s team is black. There has “long been a strain of xenophobia in the Slavic cultures of the former Soviet Union,” Longman continues. And while there is apparently less hatred towards people of the Jewish faith, attacks on black people remains a big problem, Longman explained.

Looking at the problem from a worldview that is more general than specifically soccer, University of Michigan professor of German studies, Andrei Markovits, said this problem is not exclusive to Eastern Europe. “It’s ubiquitous in Europe,” professor Markovits explained to the Times’ reporter. “Somehow the soccer stadium has remained the last bastion of unmitigated maleness,” Markovits pointed out. A male soccer fan can behave badly and “be proud of it,” he said, “the way you can’t in virtually any other venue in Europe” (Longman, p. 2).

In conclusion, it is fair to say that while the recent reports of racism and hatefulness towards people of other cultures and religious beliefs are disturbing, racism and violence are not new concepts in European soccer matches. For years the video reports from numerous soccer venues have shown drunken hooligans creating chaos and disturbing what otherwise should be a good competitive soccer match on the field. If violence and racism becomes a common theme in soccer matches in Europe, one can easily see that many fans will prefer to watch the matches on television than risk their safety in stadiums where security and safety cannot be guaranteed.

Bibliography

Baxter, Kevin. ‘Racism charges detract from Euro 2012 soccer in Poland, Ukraine.’ Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://articles.latimes.com. 2012.

Bernstein, Dan. ‘Bernstein: Euro Soccer Racism Shocking.’ CBS Chicago. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://chicago.cbslocal.com. 2012.

Longman, Jere. ‘Racism and Soccer Are in Play at a Big Event in East Europe.’ The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com.

CBS in Chicago reports that “Monkey chants directed at a black player” while he was warming up would never be tolerated in the National Football League (Bernstein, 2012). It is “entirely unimaginable,” Bernstein explains, to witness an African-American player being hounded by fans shouting racist slogans in the U.S., notwithstanding what a “shameful history of slavery” went on in America years ago.

But in Krakow in 2012 this kind of racism is apparently tolerated, given that a player from the Czech Republic, Theodor Gebre Selassie was harassed with a “monkey-chant” (Bernstein). The racist chants apparently come from the “far-right nationalism” movement; they don’t wear Ku Klux Klan outfits but they carry and wave swastikas, and they do the hated Nazi salutes as well (Bernstein).

A quote from one of the persons (the coach of Ukraine, Oleg Blokhin) who “exemplifies” the attitudes of the racist crowds and players tells the bigoted side of the story quite well: the Euro Soccer League doesn’t want “…some Zumba-bumba whom they took off a tree, gave him two bananas and now he’s playing in the Ukrainian League” (Bernstein).

Apparently Polish soccer fans are tolerant of the “…racism and anti-Semitism” that takes place in their stadiums, Bernstein explains.

Meanwhile an article in the Los Angeles Times (Baxter, 2012) points out that the racism and anti-Semitism associated with Euro Soccer has “…resulted in international condemnation and embarrassment — much of it aimed at Ukraine.” But Baxter asserts that getting the discussion out into the public arena is a good thing, in an ironic way. The British documentary that ran before the 2012 soccer tournament showed soccer fans from Poland and Ukraine “displaying racist and anti-Semitic attitudes that included the vicious beating of Asian and dark-skinned fans” (Baxter, p. 1).

One player of color, Italy’s Mario Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian descent, “promised to take matters into his own hands” if rowdy hooligans attack him with vicious racist rhetoric. “I will not accept racism at all,” he stated, recalling that he was once “pelted by bananas in a Rome bar.” He told reporters that he will “kill” anyone in the street throwing a banana at him during the tournament (Baxter, p. 1).

The President of the UEFA, Michel Platini told the press referees will stop the matches if players are abused by fans. “There is more and more nationalism in Europe,” Platini said. “You can feel it at the matches. There are some worries. Some big worries” (Baxter, p. 1). Part of the disappointment of the Euro matches is that this was designed to be “the East Bloc’s coming-out party, one that burnished its image and welcomed it into the community of nations as a full partner,” Baxter writes. Instead of a coming out party, it has turned out to be a “costly embarrassment” for the East Bloc (Baxter, p. 2).

The New York Times reported in May, 2012, that a “…complicated racial issue has arisen” because the families of two black players from England announced they do not plan to attend the tournament. Why are they staying away? They fear “…abuse or violence in Ukraine”; and the reason for their fear was played out recently in a BBC documentary, which “…has further inflamed emotions” in England (Longman, 2012). Along with the BBC documentary, one of England’s best players, John Terry, is facing a criminal charge of being racially abusive to an opponent who was a man of color (during a club match in 2011); this has also stirred emotions in England, Longman explains.

There was good reason for people in Great Britain to be concerned about racial abuse in Ukraine because one third of England’s team is black. There has “long been a strain of xenophobia in the Slavic cultures of the former Soviet Union,” Longman continues. And while there is apparently less hatred towards people of the Jewish faith, attacks on black people remains a big problem, Longman explained.

Looking at the problem from a worldview that is more general than specifically soccer, University of Michigan professor of German studies, Andrei Markovits, said this problem is not exclusive to Eastern Europe. “It’s ubiquitous in Europe,” professor Markovits explained to the Times’ reporter. “Somehow the soccer stadium has remained the last bastion of unmitigated maleness,” Markovits pointed out. A male soccer fan can behave badly and “be proud of it,” he said, “the way you can’t in virtually any other venue in Europe” (Longman, p. 2).

In conclusion, it is fair to say that while the recent reports of racism and hatefulness towards people of other cultures and religious beliefs are disturbing, racism and violence are not new concepts in European soccer matches. For years the video reports from numerous soccer venues have shown drunken hooligans creating chaos and disturbing what otherwise should be a good competitive soccer match on the field. If violence and racism becomes a common theme in soccer matches in Europe, one can easily see that many fans will prefer to watch the matches on television than risk their safety in stadiums where security and safety cannot be guaranteed.

Bibliography

Baxter, Kevin. ‘Racism charges detract from Euro 2012 soccer in Poland, Ukraine.’ Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://articles.latimes.com. 2012.

Bernstein, Dan. ‘Bernstein: Euro Soccer Racism Shocking.’ CBS Chicago. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://chicago.cbslocal.com. 2012.

Longman, Jere. ‘Racism and Soccer Are in Play at a Big Event in East Europe.’ The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com.


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