Football Matters Part I: Two colors inside and the divisions outside

Football matters, indeed it does, to you, to me and to millions of other fans around the world and to the players who play it day in day out. And what’s also certain is that there are football matters that continue to haunt the very basis of modern football, none more so than the one in question here.

Football, without doubt, is the most watched and followed around sport in the world in this day and age. There are kids around the world who would sacrifice their studies just to have a few extra hours of playing it and then there would be ‘adults’ who would refuse to get going with their normal lives should their favorite team lose a match. Yup, football is a common denominator that strings millions of distinct individuals from around the world. For some it’s passion to be following the sport, for some others it is a religion that they live by and for a distinct few it is a matter of even more- for whom football is a feeling that can’t be explained but they spend their lives explaining it.

Despite its immense popularity, football is still a game that has growing numbers, especially in markets previously unflustered, those being parts of Africa and Asia. But growing popularity of the game hasn’t helped it get rid of some old demons, that of racism which continues to haunt parts of European football‘s landscape, no matter how unfortunate it is.

The events of having racist undertones continue in some of Europe’s best regarded leagues, even though honcho’s running the game continue to try and portray racism in football seem as outdated and old-fashioned as bubble perms. It only needs a moment to remember, the banana throwing incident at Roberto Carlos, one of football’s most revered players. Then there’s the current highlight that came in after ‘claims’ by Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdinand about racist taunts by fellow professionals Luis Suarez and John Terry in a league where there are personalities from all over the globe with different cultural backgrounds and races play season in season out.

In football, it’s not wrong to hate anybody, hell you can loathe people and clubs, the problem only really arises when you try mocking a club or a player for an unfortunate event beyond the realms of football, like the Munich or the Heysel tragedy or indeed go a step further and try to go tangential about a player’s colour rather than his ability with the ball at his feet, all this in order to portray your one-upmanship to an opposing player or club with regards to their footballing pedigree. As unfortunate as it is and despite the incumbent anti-racism campaigns around Europe, the under currents still exist where a player’s color at times is made to outshine the one’s he’s wearing on his shirt, and that is where the problem lies in its entirety.

Tales of two colors: Divided but only by the color on their shirts and scarves.

And that really is not accounting any racist taunts that the fans might suffer from based on their color. In a stadium there are two sets of colors, one for each side on their jerseys and not on the skin. The stadium is divided into two half’s, these two colors divides it. But the people present at the stadium forget that among those two colors, there are millions of other colors. Colors in the form of different religions, different castes, different races and in the very essence exploitation of these is what needs to be stamped out. People with colored skin could be well be great footballers, and there can be people around the world in the ‘lesser’ territories who follow European clubs as religiously and as passionately as some of their European counterparts without ever having the good fortune of seeing their team play in front of their own eyes. Yet, most of the said variety of fans would be seen as ‘gloryhunters’ by some other sections of fans who watch the views of their favorite teams from the home tiers in Europe, for whom these men in question have never seen their own team play live, they haven’t experienced the stadium atmosphere and chants, how can these men living thousands of miles away be held in the same breath as them?

And racism has no part in that game called football.

As for racism, in the past the problem has been compounded by the players’ reluctance to come out it with it, as Danny Lynch of Kick It Out says “In previous generations to put their names to anti-racism campaigns for fear they would only get more abuse. It was: ‘Keep your head down’, bite your tongue, get on with it”. And that is where the fear lies because even if a player is abused and comes out with it in public, in the lack of evidence the aggressor would be let off and all the abused player would get is more taunts of being a ‘liar’ and this is what has happened on more than one occasion in the past and continues to happen.

Kicking out racism doesn’t stop you from doing things a football fan would commonly do at a match, to be passionate, to support his team or to rile up the opposition but would only emphasize on drawing the line where it should be. Its about people realizing that your ticket to the game does not entitle you to slander, racially abuse, bombard or assault players.

The point in matter being, so many castes, religions and races unite in the essence of football that being divisive about anyone of them is neither fair nor correct. Football, they say, is a matter of life and death, and racism would only take you close to metaphorical hell. In football, only two colours should matter, that’s what the game should be about, not about the colour on your skin that you were born with.


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