Nowadays English soccer supporters don't go to their stadia and tune in to Match of the Day to see 22 men running around kicking a ball. That's just the wallpaper. Judging by the media's focus, the real interest these days is in the ever present danger of a racial tiff breaking out in a league that has thrown together a myriad of different nationalities and cultures in an environment that exemplifies masculine competitiveness.
A recent highlight–Saturday's Liverpool vs. Manchester United game–featured 25 players (including 3 substitutions) with 18 Whites (11 from the British Isles), four Blacks, and three mixed-race players. While this game was not without sporting interest, the real talking point was the refusal of the Uruguayan player Luis Suarez to shake hands with the Senegalese-born Patrice Evra, the same man whose accusations of ‘racism’ had seen Suarez banned for eight games earlier in the season.
This happened during the pre-match handshake, an enforced ritual where both teams are required to file past each other shaking hands in a futile pretence that they are all gentlemen with not an ounce of 'racism,' 'homophobia,' or anything else nasty and toxic in their bones.
After Suarez asserted his personal right to not shake hands with his accuser, Evra then attempted to grab Suarez's arm, but was shrugged off. Further down the line, Suarez's handshake was then refused by Evra's mulatto team-mate Rio Ferdinand with no similar histrionics from the Uruguayan who conducted himself with quiet dignity.
Ferdinand might possibly have been thinking about the other racial controversy that is still reverberating in the soccer world, involving his brother Anton, who plays for relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers, and the England and Chelsea captain John Terry. After a match in November last year Terry was accused of racially abusing the younger Ferdinand.
The specifics of the two cases bear looking at. In a 115-page report, released in December, the sport's governing body, the Football Association, effectively built its case against Suarez on differentiating the two available witnesses. Rather than his-word-against-mine, Evra was lauded as a "credible witness," while Suarez was stigmatized as "unreliable and inconsistent."
Evra, whose background is Senegalese and French, claimed that Suarez said in Spanish–Suarez's native tongue–that he had kicked Evra, "because you are black," said "I don't speak to blacks," and used the word "negro" five times as they argued. Suarez may have perhaps over gilded the lily when he claimed that his use of the word 'negro' to address Evra was conciliatory and friendly. A panel of "Spanish linguistic experts" brought in by the FA concluded that Suarez's use of the term 'negro' was not intended as an attempt at conciliation or to establish rapport.
The only logical inference to draw from all this is that referring to a Black person's race without any other insulting terminology is itself regarded as an offence by the FA, and that being Black has therefore been officially decreed a state of inferiority or humiliation.
Terry's case is more serious because he is reported to have conjoined the word 'Black' with 'cunt,' allegedly calling Ferdinand a "fucking black cunt." Terry claims that he was actually asking Ferdinand, "Oi, Anton, do you think I called you a black cunt?" That 'cunt' should be considered insulting in our sexually liberated times is in its own way an odd endorsement of sexist attitudes by the PC authorities. A more enlightened attitude would surely regard a reference to negroid skin colour combined with the divine seat of feminine identity as one of the highest possible compliments.
While Suarez was fined £40,000 and banned for eight matches by the FA, Terry's punishment has been much more severe. In December he was officially charged with the criminal offence of "using racist language" with a trial to be held in July, after the 2012 European Championships in which the England national team was considered one of the favourites to win. Although the maximum penalty if found guilty would be a fine of £2,500, chickenfeed to someone like Terry, a conviction would see him officially branded a racist and see further sanctions imposed on him by the FA.
The negative effects this could have on his career and post-soccer career have already manifested themselves, with the Football Association, led by its Jewish chairman, David Bernstein, deciding to strip Terry of his England captaincy despite the fact that he has not yet been convicted, a move that may also prejudice any jury selected for the trial. This interference by the executives of the FA has had a knock-on effect, causing the England national team manager Fabio Capello to resign from his post due to what he saw as unwarranted interference in the team's affairs.
Capello, a top Italian manager brought in to boost the national team in 2008, continued to support Terry, seeing his captaincy as vital for England's success in the European Championships. The racial controversy by removing both the team's manager and captain in the months leading up to that tournament has severely dented England's chances of success. But, of course, football itself is no longer that important. It has been hijacked by the PC brigade as the perfect vehicle to ram racial mea-culpa-ism and White guilt down the throat of the sport's still largely unreformed White working class audience.
Soccer is game that involves speed, skill, and various kinds of interaction–both verbal and physical–with team mates and opposition players under intense pressure. The most successful players are those like Suarez and Terry who act and speak instinctively without too much conscious deliberation. Many of the players come from tough, ethnically diverse, working-class neighbourhoods, where the use of colourful racial sobriquets is part of the air that people breathe. Whether someone were what is conventionally called a 'racist' or not would have little bearing on their chances of occasionally saying the kinds of things that Terry and Suarez have been accused of. That Terry, who has captained countless multi-racial Chelsea and England teams with great success, should be called a 'racist' seems particularly laughable. Not only does it highlight the absurdity of the criminalization of specific parts of the common language, but also suggests that the 'anti-racist' lobby has in fact scored an own goal.
In contrast to the players and fans, the game's administrators come from upper-middle-class and business backgrounds, where instinct, urban grit, and ethnic 'enrichment' are largely absent; a rarefied world of insincerity and self-serving hypocrisy, where cold eyes hide dark thoughts and calculation measures every word.
What long-term effect these high profile cases will have on the mass of English football supporters remains to be seen. What is immediately noticeable, however, is the degree to which both Liverpool and Chelsea, with the full support of their fans, have stood firmly behind the two players.
Football is often said to be a game of two halves, meaning two 45-minute periods in which the fortunes of the opposing teams can change dramatically, but this expression now has a new meaning, hinting at the cultural, class, racial, and political struggle that is ripping the sport apart.