Thursday, January 10, 2013

Racism oppresses European soccer leagues

We all grew up listening to brave stories of African American athletes, like Jackie Robinson, who persevered and thrived on the field despite challenges with ignorance and racism as he became the first player of color in the MLB in the late 1940's. With our recent class discussions of racism, it has come to my realization that European soccer leagues are experiencing the same difficulties with racism as we had with "breaking the color barrier"in baseball just after World War II.

Last week in a friendly match, Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan kicked a ball into the bleachers, taking a stand after he had been subjected to racial abuse which resulted in the game being called at half. The rest of the report from CNN can be further read here as well as a video of the incident. The German born-member of the Ghana national team along with many other African members of club football teams have been the victims of severe racial abuse. Cameroonian player Samuel Eto'o threatened to leave during a match due to racist chants and the list of verbally abused players goes on. ESPN even highlighted the issue in a segment back in 2008 called, "A Beautiful Game Turns Ugly." Please start around 0:45 and watch some of the powerful and upsetting stories of racism.

Racism has been a problem in America since the beginning. Fighting racial ignorance has defined our country and will now play a defining role of the legacy of the world's most beloved sport. I think like Jackie Robinson who was the target of physical and verbal abuse, by ignoring it and continuing to thrive, you are sending the most powerful message to combat further racist acts. Although I am sure the chants are overwhelming and near impossible to ignore, I don't think Boateng, Eto'o, and other players should walk off the field. However, I think the leagues also need to crack down with harsher punishments on the hosting clubs whose fans, players, coaches, and officials are responsible for racist actions and comments towards others. What actions do you think should be taken to combat and punish racism? 

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