Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro 2012: Bring Your Best Racist Chant

One of these players won't be treated like the others. And that's bad for soccer.

You know how I know soccer has racist fans? When the Dutch team gets racially attacked. I mean you have to be pretty racist to go after the Netherlands for being not white enough.

Now, I know...this doesn't reflect all soccer fans, qualifier, qualifier, ok now I'm being politically correct.

The history of racism in soccer is well documented. What happens when you're the world's biggest sport is that you have to include the entire world. It just so happens that some of these pockets on the planet think skin color provides ample grounds for harassment while enjoying a light brew and watching people run around on a pitch kicking a ball.

Motivation is key in these tirades that many in the Eastern European block go down. This isn't just stupid people making cheap jokes, these are neo-NAZI's and white supremacist groups that use soccer matches as pow-wows for their antiquated ideas.

UEFA, the governing body for European soccer, has made minimal efforts to expunge racism from the sport. It's one thing to see stop racism campaigns pre-match before Arsenal and Chelsea play in England. It's another when the UEFA denies the "racist-ness" of chants in Poland and Ukraine. It's always easier to fight the fight you'll win than the one you'll lose. While UEFA feels like it can pull its parlor tricks among Europe, what it is failing to grasp is the catastrophe that is awaiting their sport overseas in the US.

While racism in sports and life is prevalent everywhere, and shouldn't be treated as non-existent by any means, the, shall we say confidence in which these fans could possibly act will not go over well America. There was an incident earlier this year where Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds had a banana thrown at him during a pre-season game in Canada. That received national attention and the fan was found and fined.

Hockey, as minimal as it is on the US sports scene is still established. Much more so than soccer, and with the US the last great divide between soccer and true global sports domination, it's not hard to imagine how many people will be turned off, and frankly disgusted, by the lewd acts potentially perpetrated by the fans during Euro 2012.

ESPN, which has the rights to the Euros, also just so happens to be the biggest distributor of sports news. It's not impossible for them to cover up smaller incidents during a broadcast or while showing highlights to protect its investment and improve the chances of soccer catching on in the US (note: ESPN has been known to pick and choose moments to jump in on stories where there is a gray area between sports and other news, like the Ben Roethlisberger case, but more often then not, when it's warranted they will be a news organization first), but should something so egregious occur, not even ESPN can mute the effect.

UEFA should be taking more strict actions for their sport. While this may be more par for the course in Europe, this won't be accepted in the US. If certain areas can't be trusted to act with civility, then don't give them a world-wide stage to show their flaws. Aside from soccer itself, there's a lot of mess and ugliness that can occur. Hopefully, for every aspect, the better side emerges from this month long tournament.

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