Racial Slurs from the Twelfth Player Bans Gremio from Playing
by Jazceal Johnstone on September 29, 2014 - 11:14pm
The article “ Brazil football club Gremio banned over racism incident” by journalists of BBC News from September 4, 2014 explains the disciplinary measures undertaken after a group of Gremio fans racially abused their opponent’s goalkeeper by calling him “monkey” during a match. As a result of their fans’ behaviour, the Brazilian team has been banned from playing in the Brazil Cup and has also been fined. The people responsible for the racist slur have been banned from attending any soccer game in Brazil for 720 days. As for the officials that were present, the referee and the linesmen failed to report the incident. Therefore, they were punished by court officials. In fact, when the goalkeeper became frustrated at the abuse, the referee claimed that he did not hear the racial slurs and believed that Aranha the goalkeeper was just wasting time.
The idea of racism in sports is not an uncommon problem brought up by its community. However, figuring out how to stop, prevent and limit racial discrimination in and out of a stadium is a whole other issue. The incident in Brazil brings to light not only the nonchalant attitude of officials towards racist behaviours during a match but also the aggressiveness amateur fans can spread through discriminatory words. I believe that this is very important to acknowledge because if officials are not punishing those who are disrespecting the athletes, who will do it? The athletes themselves? Other fans? Officials need to start taking action at a more constant and effective rate to reduce the number of incidents that occur during the season.
However, another important issue that should be discussed is the appropriate punishment for offenders who racially abuse athletes or any other person who is actively participating or not in a game. Should they be banned from entering games in the same country their offence was committed? Or should they just be fined? Personally, I think banning the fan or fans in question from a number of games and fining them is an appropriate punishment because nothing gives someone the right to put down other based on their skin tone. Also, I think the people in question should publicly apologize to the person they hurt and should see how their words affected that person. It is unfair for people to judge other based on something they cannot control especially if it is their skin colour.
In terms of the club being banned, I think it is a very smart and strategic way for organizations to control racial discrimination done by fans. By doing so, the fans not only get punished for their actions but so do other fans who enjoy watching the team play and even the team itself. If fans love their team so much, maybe they will think twice before racially abusing an opponent, in fear of banning their team from playing in a tournament. At the same time however, I wonder how the Gremio team reacted when they heard fans shouting “Monkey” to their opponent’s goalkeeper. This information would have explained how other athletes react to racist remarks being done to their opponents.
This article does lack a clear definition of what is considered to be racist. In the article, racism is only demonstrated by calling someone “monkey”. Therefore, the reader is left to assume that when a person makes fun of someone that has a dark skin tone, they are being racist. However, this type of individual racism is not the only kind because failing to admit that a racist action has been committed, like the referee and the linesmen did during the game, is also a type of racism. Another piece of information that is omitted in this article is the punishment received by officials for ignoring the racial slurs being called out to Aranha. I would have suspended their license that permits them to be officials because their role is to make sure all athletes are safe from any threats, whether it be physical or verbal. One thing I do know because of this article is that without the collective support of fans, athletes and officials, it will be very difficult to end the racial abuse in sports.
(September 4, 2014). Brazil football club Gremio banned over racism incident. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-29052037.