General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Ending racism - How will Kevin-Prince Boateng's walk-off change sports in Europe and elsewhere?

Asked by mattbrowne (31557points) January 4th, 2013

In my view this is big. The soccer player Kevin-Prince Boateng of AC Milan left an ongoing game after being racially abused by spectators during Milan’s friendly against fourth division side Pro Patria in northern Italy. His whole team supported him and walked off as well.

I think it was an awesome and heroic decision.

Italy is not the only country where racism in soccer is a major issue. Even worse is the situation in Serbia. Of course you will always have individual racist idiots in any stadium, but the question is how other spectators react. Do they oppose this? Support this? Remain silent?

There have been minor incidents in Germany as well over the past few years, but it’s no longer a big problem. About 15 years ago the presidents of all major German soccer clubs said this: If every club has at least one great black player, racism will stop inside the stadium. It seems to be working. Scouts go to Africa all the time trying to identify and recruit talented players. Every German club now has several black players. Many of them are totally awesome impressing everyone including troubled young men susceptible to racism. They learned to love their heroes from Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory-Coast. Kevin-Prince Boateng’s brother plays for Bayern München, by the way. He’s a great player too.

So what will come out of all this? Do you agree what happened in Italy yesterday will make sports history? How significant is it in your view?

What is the situation in the United States? In England? Elsewhere?

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21 Answers

ucme's avatar

You’re right, it’s bloody huge. Okay this was only a friendly. but if this doesn’t make fifa sit up & take notice then nothing will. I saw the footage & applauded Boateng for having the courage of his convictions, wish the england U21’s had done the same against the vile serbian racist bastards late last year.
It’s only the minority of so called “fans” but it’s a disturbing trend that left unchecked, could rapidly spiral out of control.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ucme – Imagine what a walk-off during a Serie A, Premier League, Bundesliga, Primera División or even Champions League match would mean…

Boateng said: “I don’t care what game it is, a friendly, Italian league or Champions League match, I would walk off again.”

In the case of this friendly, obviously it was a large vocal minority of Pro Patria “fans”. And they kept shouting for almost 25 minutes.

ucme's avatar

@mattbrowne Any walk off in a major league game would rock the game to it’s foundations & you know what, I think that would be just what this issue with racism needs.
Apparently the majority of that crowd applauded Boateng & his team mates off the field, the morons were left standing looking sheepish & dumbfounded despite their earlier bravado.
Here in the premier league there’s only been a couple of idiots making monkey chants & they’ve been quickly dealt with.

zenvelo's avatar

In the United States, the integration of sports has done more than just about anything to bring down racism. It was not easy, back in the fifties black baseball players and basketball players had many problems. But since then it has helped raise consciousness. For instance, when Doug Williams won the Super Bowl, it ended a long discussion about black quarterbacks, as did the career of Warren Moon.

Nowadays, if someone yelled racist taunts from the stands they’d find themselves thrown out of the stands by those around them.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not sure what the implication of a “friendly” means. I am also unfamiliar with the specific behavior of fans in different countries in Europe. In the US, we tend to hear mostly about hooligans from the UK. Not so much from elsewhere. I’m just talking about news coverage that I have seen.

If you say the walk-off is huge, then I believe you. Is it unusual? Will there be any penalties for the players? Are there any penalties for fans? Is this something that the Italian police should be dealing with? All in all, it sounds like a dramatic and positive step, though.

ucme's avatar

@wundayatta A friendly is little more than an exhibition game, no points are at stake & it doesn’t affect league position or anything related.
This walk off is unprecedented, it’s been coming for a while though & it will probably open the floodgates now it’s been done. The penalties for the fans are widespread, public order offences/inciting racism/lifetime bans from the grounds, zero tolerance basically.

FutureMemory's avatar

What is the situation in the United States?

Sports hooliganism is virtually non-existent here. Far too many non-whites in pro sports for this sort of behavior to ever take hold.

ucme's avatar

The Spanish/Italian & Serbian FA need to get their house in order & quick!
I’m sure Mr.Blatter will bury his head in the sand again & toss a pathetic fine in the general direction of the troubles, crazy logic.

bookish1's avatar

I’m listening to a discussion about this on American public radio right now. It got me thinking of the Black Power salute at the Mexico City Olympics.
I really hope this does open the floodgates as @ucme said.
Homophobia is still a huge problem in American sports.

amujinx's avatar

There was an incident in Canada a little over a year ago where Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers was going for a shootout penalty shot and a fan threw a banana onto the ice. The community of the town where the exhibition game was played hunted down the person who did it and guilted him into making a public apology for his actions, although he claimed he was doing it just to mess up the shot and didn’t think about the racist implications. In America and Canada, there still are racist things said about sports players, but they have been subdued to the whisperings of racists who realize that if they took them to more than a whisper they would be in trouble for the most part. @bookish1 is right on how homophobia is still extremely rampant in American sports though.

Pingu's avatar

I have no comment except to say that this story brightened my day.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ucme – Yes, it would indeed be just what this issue with racism needs. When you said ‘quickly dealt with’ what exactly does this mean? Police entering a particular fan section making arrests?

In my opinion getting their house in order won’t happen quickly except for showing zero tolerance and introducing harsh fines for clubs and the individual offender. Racist mindsets won’t change over night. Perhaps every Spanish, Italian and Serbian soccer club needs at least one top black athlete. What I find ironic is that it was the Italian player Mario Balotelli threw out Germany with his two goals at the Euro 2012.

mattbrowne's avatar

@zenvelo – I’m very glad to hear this. Curious, does this entail that today’s remaining US racists are not sports fans?

mattbrowne's avatar

@bookish1, @amujinx – Is there homophobic shouting from fans in a stadium? If yes, a homosexual star could also decide to walk off the field.

mattbrowne's avatar

Recently, in the Netherlands soccer players killed a referee after a game because they disagreed with some of his decisions. I think all the root causes of this has nothing to do with sports. Sports is just being used as a platform to vent deep-seated frustrations of troubled young men.

amujinx's avatar

@mattbrowne The issue with homophobia is more about other players saying they wouldn’t play on a team with a gay player. I don’t know of any openly gay players off the top of my head; the only time I’ve heard of any player admitting he is gay is after he had retired.

ucme's avatar

@mattbrowne They’re caught on cctv & immediately ejected from the stadium & then booed off by a rightly incensed crowd, just as it should be.
Yeah, Balotelli should give them a moment’s clarity at the very least, not all Italians love him though, Mancini is be driven mad by the temperamental bugger.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I remember going to football in the 80s when Mark Walters became one of (if not the) first black players to appear in Scottish football and he had bananas etc thrown at him. Thankfully that did change as there were attempts to educate people and it got to a tipping point where people started to appreciate the skills and not the colour of their skin.

Sadly there will always be a problem with racism and it tells you a lot when Bendtner was fined more for showing advertising on his Y-Fronts than fines handed out for racist abuse. UEFA and indeed FIFA are run by people who only care about their bank balance than the actual game so they will make a token gesture at stamping out racism and then go back to the manufacturing of more brown envelopes.

ucme's avatar

Justin Fashanu, a brilliant black footballer who played for Norwich City & Nottingham Forest in the early eighties, later said he was gay. He had enough bullshit dealing with racist scum than to bother coming out when in his prime.
He remains to date the only player in this country to come out to the media, he later killed himself in the US amid claims of sexual assault which he denied, a true hero for more reasons than one.

mattbrowne's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine – Blatter is a disgrace, but no one dares take him down. There’s this saying that a fish rots from the head down.

ucme's avatar

So the “mighty one” has spoken, Blatter condemns Boateng for walking off the pitch & warns any further occurence will result in teams forfeiting matches.
He really is a complete head of a dick, he’ll keep running FIFA for the self serving cash cow that it is, parasite.

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