Even in 2018, Racism hasn’t been kicked out of football
Words by Charles Odugbesan
So Arsenal Football Club went up against Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the 196th North London Derby on Sunday and from the game, we can take two major talking points. The first was that this part of town was painted red as Arsenal turned out emphatic 4-2 winners, reasserting their dominance over pitiful opposition. But amidst the ecstasy; the joy; the wonder that comes with our weekly dosage of football fantasy, police action was required as an act of bigotry and racism brought us back to bitter reality.
After celebrating the first of his brace of goals Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown in his direction by a fan from the section of Tottenham supporters. It wasn’t an incident that was spotted until after the game where images were released and later a man was arrested.
To stamp out racism, not only in football, but in society as a whole is to enforce a change in the mindset of people who exhibit such views and behaviour. The method you choose is down to you – be it through education, protest, punishment, violence or otherwise. When something like this happens, it becomes clear that certain problems just won’t go away. Some people are comfortable with their mindset. Some people refuse to acknowledge their ignorance and as a result, will pass it down to the following generations. It doesn’t matter how ‘multicultural’ big cities like London are in this day and age. It clearly doesn’t even matter how multicultural the football team you cheer for and support every week is. I wonder how messers Aurier, Rose, Sissoko, Alli and Moura felt seeing this from their own supporters. Some people are just ignorant and bigoted and racist… and couldn’t care less that they are!
Predictably, a lot of us, when seeing displays of such overt racism, are left shocked and appalled. That annoys me. I get irritated when people use such a generic reaction or train of thought…”How are people still like this in (insert current year)? How can people still be so ignorant?” To that, I say this: more fool you for expecting someone who doesn’t give a damn about their behaviour to change. The images we see from this past Sunday are no different to incidents in the game that we can recall 20, 30 even 40 years back. Ask the likes of Ian Wright, John Barnes and Viv Anderson who were routinely subject to racial abuse. It’s no different to the kind of treatment people receive in everyday life, from a disguised corporate setting to a blatant on the street encounter. Why do we act so surprised?
I am not here to say that racists shouldn’t be called out for being so disgusting. However, I do accept that not only in the game of football but in civilisation itself, these types of people are here and whether right or wrong they do not care to change. There are highly educated, highly sophisticated, powerful, well respected and well-LOVED men and women that are unapologetically racist. What does that tell me? It tells me they don’t care a lick. So, in turn, how can the aggrieved expect better?