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John Terry

Hallo Negro!

by Nick Pawson / 23.02.2012

South Africa has long held the monopoly on racism, but now the rest of the world seems to have caught the racism bug. From black British MP’s tweeting prejudiced remarks about whites, to Scandinavian extremists going on killing sprees in a twisted protest against Islamic immigration. But it’s two incidents in English football that have been hogging all the headlines of late – and where better to watch racism than live, and in HD.

There’s no worse branding in the world of sport than the taint of racism. Once you’re involved in any kind of racial altercation, you carry that sign of the devil to your grave. It’s like being a leper, except these days you don’t get shipped off to a colony – you continue to live and play amongst us.
Chelsea, and former England skipper, John Terry’s alleged racial slur – directed at QPR’s Anton Ferdinand – has been disputed in court, with the trial now adjourned until a week after the EURO 2012 final. So at some stage, Terry is going to have to sing “God Save The Queen” alongside England teammate Rio Ferdinand (Anton’s brother) before the case is resolved. Not awkward at all.

Is it just pure coincidence then, that the Chelsea defender is about to take a two-month hiatus from football to undergo surgery for an “ongoing knee problem”, just a week before England’s friendly against Holland?

Luis Suarez on the other hand, had a perfect opportunity to clear his name (somewhat) when Man United defender Patrice Evra reached out the olive branch two weekends ago – but the Liverpool striker refused to shake his hand. Ironically, Suarez’s hand wasn’t as forthcoming as it was against his Ghanaian opponents during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final. Suarez denies racially abusing Evra, and insists his Spanish variation of the N-word is not deemed offensive in South America. Terry, meanwhile, said his comments were taken out of context.

So let me get this straight – it’s okay to drop the N-bomb, the B-bomb, or in our case the K-bomb, on the field of play, as long as you’re speaking in generalities? I didn’t realise sportsmen had time to study semantics.

Luis Suarez

God knows South Africa has had its fair share of racial malarkey on the sports field. I believe we’ve come a long way since the days when Afrikaner Geo Cronje refused to share a room with his coloured Springbok teammate, Quinton Davids. Most of our ‘racism’ these days seems to be directed at sports administrators for slow transformation, or coaches/ selectors for fielding a team that is not representative of the country’s demographics.

Luis Suarez comes from a country (Uruguay) that has a black population of 4%. Geo Cronje comes from a country that is just over 4% white. Yet in both cases, it’s whites hating on blacks. There are still flare-ups in the heat of play however, and as recent as 2011, prop Brian Mujati was called a “baboon” at scrum-time by Steven Sykes and Heinke van der Merwe during a Euro rugby pre-season game between Northampton Saints and Leinster. Sykes – a ‘Soutie’, Van Der Merwe – a ‘Dutchman’, and Mujati – a ‘Zimbo’. I’m trying to stereotype here, but it’s futile. I don’t have a theory. But I do have a point.

And the point is, racism is still alive and well in sport – a medium that has been hailed for its ability to break down racial barriers – and it needs to end.

Perhaps the prejudice stems from an insecurity, since non-white athletes are starting to dominate just about every sporting code ‘invented’ by whites. Chris Rock reckons it’s only a matter of time before the top ice hockey players are black, because they can hit the puck with their dicks.

At least the sanctions for racism are fairly harsh. Terry has been stripped of his England captaincy pre-verdict, and faces a potential fine. The repercussions can be dramatic too. Fabio Capello has since resigned as England manager due to the FA’s handling of the matter. But does it change the way players feel about their opposite number? Not really – they’ll just learn to keep their mouths shut. And at least, in that silence, sport won’t be viewed by the public, desperate for some kind of affirmation, as a reinforcement of racist attitudes.

And back in the good republic, we need to move away from pulling the race card as a basic recourse when players are snubbed purely based on merit – “Coach didn’t choose me, it must be cause I’m black/ white”.

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  1. Zoidberg says:

    Wow, deep.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    South Africa has long held the monopoly on racism?? I stopped reading there…

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  3. Wit Kaffir says:

    Reads like it was written by Hellen Zille’s five year old grandchild. John Terry is a racist and a despicable human being though and deserves all the shit he gets.

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  4. Andy says:

    aah the Mahala trolls welcoming our new writer with the usual unhelpful and bitter comments… you guys are nothing if not predictable.

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  5. Chilla says:

    @Andy – Ok, here you go… There is no actual analysis/engagement with the issue here. It reads like sparknotes. A highlights package. Pawson hasn’t convinced me that “racism is still alive and well in sport”. He refers to a handful of incidents spanning a 15 year period, and the little stereotype jig – seriously??? We know there is racism in sport- sport is played by people, and some people are racist, not much you can do about it. But this shouldn’t detract from the fact that it provides a platform on which persons with vastly different views and lives can find common ground. Surely this kind of personal exposure to those against whom one holds prejudicial opinion can only make it more difficult to be an ignorant cunt? But if you want to focus on the crap that does go on, what about Samuel Eto’o? The poor guy always get overlooked. He complained for years about the continual abuse he received on the Continent (bananas thrown at him in Italy, monkey gestures, slurs from players and fans alike)- nobody gave a shit, including Fifa. It’s all tabliodesque media bullshit – people love to hate Suarez, Terry is a celebrity, it’s as simple as that… Also, many publications in Saffa use the sensitive topic of race to get hits/sell copies – idiot journos stoking the fire in an attempt to survive in a fast-evolving, increasingly-competitive market. This whorish behavior (“Hallo Negro” ffs) makes me want to gooi last night’s roti all over my keyboard. If you are going to talk about race, our specific context requires that you provide some kind of insight, or you are likely to be pelted with Media24 labelled vegetables… The last article was interesting though (showed it to a ST sports jurno and he digged it lank too)…

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  6. cnut says:

    Andy really is a douche-bag…

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  7. Derek Rossa says:

    I had a black teammate who called a hotnot once so I called him a kaffir and we went the whole season like that. We’d have lengthy insult matches. Really took the joy out of trying to be racist. You want to play rugby but you cant take people saying little words about you.

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  8. Bobbyb says:

    A topic that is definately worth writing about, but being someone from the UK residing in SA I can tell you, you have barely scratched the surface on the issue, both are complex cases…and in Terry’s case, what happened to innocent until proven guilty? Also highly ulikely that Terry and Ferdinand will play together, as both are old, knackered and will undoubtedly be seen as the old guard, which any new eng manager will be keen to toss on the top of the scrapheap. I absolutely agree that racism in any form should be cut out of sport…however I fail to see the connection between the english game (from 1 proven and alledged incidence of raism) where there is no endemic problem of racism to SA, which is a completely different kettle of fish..c-

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  9. Heather says:

    Something that cannot be ignored is the psycho racism of European fans. When I hear about fans at stadiums making baboon sounds whenever a black player touches the ball, it infuriates me. The name-calling, chanting, insults and racism that seem to be so prevalent in European football these days sickens me. The fact that this is now also happening on the field shouldn’t be surprising.
    Right now, SA – flawed as it is – is looking a lot more self-aware than most.

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