The roots of racism go back to the beginnings of the human race. In recent history, for example, the Greeks, Spartans and others called the ancient Persians and others Barbarians. Also, the ancient Assyrians, Persians, and Nazi Germany deemed the Jewish people as inferiors. Similarly, the Romans, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Europeans and Americans and others called the others uncivilized. In the middle to late 1800s at the height of Europe’s race for African lands and when Eugenics was in vogue, the Germans started the science of biological racism based on a person’s skin color and head size. In fact, the Germans killed millions of Africans during this period as they deemed Africans inferior to animals. During this time, there was a well-known trade in African human skulls around Europe. With the advent of 1492 and the discovery of the “Old World,” Europeans over a span of 400 or more years murdered, pillaged, and raped their way through these lands occupied by American Indians. As Europeans exported organized violence and their racist ideologies, Europeans had no qualms in claiming and confiscating these virgin lands in North, Central and South America, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia, even if this meant the extermination of all inferior races. The vast wealth accrued from all the gold, silver, and other precious minerals was exported and deposited into European Banks. Not to mention the export of sexually transmitted and other diseases that devastated millions and millions of Native Americans. With all these newly confiscated lands, Europeans used free slave labor in the export of millions of African Slaves. Suffice to add that thousands of slaves never made the trip from Africa to the “New” World. It is no exaggeration to say that without all these confiscated lands, precious natural resources and free slave labor, European capitalism wouldn’t have had any oxygen to survive. The very foundations of Western capitalism were built on the backs of free slave labor and with these vast resource rich lands.
After biological or scientific racism was debunked and deemed untenable in the late twentieth century, racists knew that they couldn’t argue that “whites” were better than others, so they disguised their racist ideology into cultural racism. Biological racism argued that some races are more developed than others and thus superior. Whereas cultural racism argues that Western cultural ideas and institutions are superior because they are from the West. In fact, this is really the same argument that has been turned on its head. For example, Niall Ferguson argues that the West is the best because it is more competitive in terms of finance. However, Ferguson conveniently omits how and what this Western competitiveness looks like in terms of a bloody history that was complicit in the American Indian and Jewish Holocausts. To be sure “the West won the world,” according to Samuel P. Huntington, “not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” It is quite obvious that Huntington is alluding to cultural racists like Niall Ferguson and others.
All of this is simply a platform upon which I would like to make several observations on the “white” justification of racism in professional soccer. A few years back, Samuel Eto remarked after he was racially abused during a Spanish soccer game with Zaragoza that racism in sports must be stamped out. Also, former Spanish National Soccer coach Luis AragonÃ©s has been guilty of racism towards Thierry Henry (called him a “black shit) and others. Even though he was fined, Aragones denied these charges as he was simply being competitive. He argued in his defense that he had many “black” friends. Despite his clear cut racist views, it was amazing to see the same Eto and others defend Aragones as not being a racist.
In the English Premier League, there have been two high-profile racial incidents involving John Terry of Chelsea and Luis Suarez of Liverpool. Terry and Suarez are being accused of allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. While Terry’s case is still under investigation, Suarez has been charged by the EPL with racism.
It is true that racism is still a problem in European Football and elsewhere in society, it is rather disappointing to witness the tacit justification and rationalization of racism in football by “white” club managers. For example, even though Suarez was accused of racially abusing Evra, Liverpool Manager, Kenny Dalglish, despite the prospect of an investigation continued to support and even denied that Suarez was a racist despite the video evidence to the contrary. In the same vein, Chelsea Manager, Villa-Boas and England National Team Manager, Fabio Capello, did the same thing for John Terry despite the some damning video evidence. The victim of Terry’s alleged racism correctly responded to Villa-Boas’ (and indirectly to Capello) uncritical support of Terry as being irrational despite an ongoing investigation. Furthermore, Fifa’s President, Sepp Blatter, who later apologized, also justified racism in Football as something that should be left on the field with a handshake. It is obvious that Blatter is condoning “white” racism in Football as he has unequivocally stated that there is “no racism in football.” Yet, he defends himself because he has helped some black footballers in the past. It is heartening to see that the head of the English PFA, Gordon Taylor, has called for Blatter resignation in light of Blatter’s denial of racism in football.
What is the disturbing rationale behind all this tacit justification of racism? The rationale behind this justification of racism as an innocent mistake that should be resolved with a simple gentlemanly handshake after a match has its roots in biological and cultural racism in which most Europeans still believe that they are racially superior to others, especially blacks. Since white Europeans control football, it is acceptable for its white players to racially abuse black players. In other words, “white” European racism is deemed acceptable because it is acceptable if a superior race abuses an inferior race. In most Western companies and/or organizations, if an individual is accused of any kind of racism towards his/her fellow worker, he/she will be disciplined and placed on a leave of absence pending the outcome of an investigation. However, in European Football, it is completely acceptable for players like John Terry and others to continue playing, and captaining the England National Team with several black players. Perhaps Capello deems adultery more heinous than racism? It is also surprising that every single African player from Chelsea continues to hug Terry.
This clear tacit justification of racism in European Football is simply the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface, there is still a deeply committed belief to White European racial superiority in all things. This is evident as some football managers (Gus Poyet thinks Evra is a cry-baby) and some in Fifa think that racism isn’t a problem in football. Poyet’s ridiculous claim that racism in football should be kept on the pitch is a clear denial of the truth. In other words, superior white European racism is not only acceptable, but it is perfectly legitimate as it is the superior race that is doing the racial abusing. If it were non-whites racially abusing others, than that would be definitely evil. In fact, other races should feel privileged to being racially abused by White Europeans because that is the natural state of affairs. Despite the fact that historically racism has marginalized, murdered, and degraded millions of human beings that are in reality equal to White Europeans, it is disappointing to see this unabashed justification of racism. This mentality is evident in the “Slanted-Eyes” Spanish National Basketball Team photo before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Even though this was a blatant form of racism with specific reference to a race’s physical features (Chinese Slanted-Eyes), the Spanish public had no qualms about the blatant racist nuances of this photo. Instead, Spain and all the Spanish basketball players thought it was just an innocent joke and that the Chinese should feel honored that Spaniards are making jest of their racial physical-inferiorities. This is another instance of White Europeans deeming their offensive racism as something to be celebrated instead of something to be criticized for what it really is: criminal racism.