Let me first make it clear that I'm not writing this to target any fan group in particular. This is directed towards all racist idiots in the stands who call themselves football fans, and that includes the Barca ultras who had the nerve to hurl racist abuse at Roberto Carlos (while Samuel Eto'o was on the pitch, no less) as much as Lazio's unsavoury fascist fringe.
The arguments put forward in favour of the drunken idiots fall under these 3 categories:
- By going out there to play, footballers essentially agree to suffering any abuse the 'supporters' choose to deal out. (The ones who put this one forward are usually incapable of stating it in those terms, but that's whatever intelligence I can gleam out of it.)
- This is plainly ridiculous, as it seeks to posit that professional footballers are somehow deprived of the rights enjoyed by every other human being on earth not to be subject to discriminatory abuse by virtue of...what, exactly? They're (over)paid to play better football than Joe Public, and they didn't somehow sign away their own fundamental rights with their contract.
- Futhermore, the supporters pay for the right to watch the game (subject to certain rules of behaviour, just like in every other sector of society), not for any supposed right to hurl abuse. If someone want to pay for the right to behave like animals towards other human beings, I'm sure there are establishments that cater to that sort of thing, but they're not called football stadiums.
- First, no one is depriving fans of the right to call Mido or any other player a fat bastard, or an incompetent wanker, and so on. It's nobody else's problem if certain fans aren't creative enough to sling 'witty' abuse at a player without resorting to racist language.
- Football doesn't exist in a parallel reality. If it's no longer acceptable in the real world, then it's no longer acceptable in the world of football. The sport is not the last refuge of those sentiments that are rightly no longer allowed to be expressed in public, and nor should it be.
- Believe it or not, the 'some of my best friends are [insert minority]' defence (because that's essentially what it is) was actually raised by the Newcastle supporter interviewed about the incident. I thought we were past the era where people needed to be informed of why such a statement was laughable at best, but apparently I'm wrong.
- Futhermore, whether the people hurling abuse mean it or not doesn't matter. The effect is the same: the victim hears the same thing either way. Conversely, if the most vile racist doesn't act on his or her thoughts or voice them, then they are left alone because in general we do not punish people simply for thinking. After all, in those cases there has been no victim. So to come full circle on this point: I don't care if any of the people engaging in racist behaviour in the stands really love ethnic minorities deep down in their soul. The action itself is wrong, regardless of intent.
(Coming up: Barca news, a farewell post for Thiago Motta, a match report from the weekend, and international news.)