When Manchester United drew with Liverpool no one wanted to talk about the match between two ancient rivals. Patrice Evra´s accusations of racism towards Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez were incendiary. Ten times during the match, the two players playing head-to-head on the wing, Evra stated that he was racially abused. Suarez denies it, vehemently, on his facebook page. In this week´s match at the Camp Nou, between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC, two late substitutes, Cesc Fabregas for the blaugrana and Fredi Kanoute of the nervionenses got into a heated exchange. Kanoute states he was racially abused and Fabregas comes out and flat-out denies any such incident occurs. A day later, today, in a match between Chelsea and QPR, Chelsea defender John Terry is accused of a similar discretion against defender Anton Ferdinand. One of the cases is certainly true. All of them might be. Who knows, none of them may have any merit at all. What is certain is that it´s an issue.
It is either this: globalization has created a situation where players from many different backgrounds, some that have little education nor experience living and working in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial environment that is modern football, and in high stakes-high pressure situations, lash out with frankly learned behavior that demeans and belittles black players. It´s understandable, I am not making any excuses for it, it is reprehensible, but considering the fact that racism is so endemic in all of our cultures I am not surprised.
That´s the more obvious answer, but what if it´s something else. Hard to prove I´m sure, but what if we´ve jumped the gun on all of these incidents and taken the black players at their word? Could it be possible that in a highly charged environment and with tempers flaring that accusing your opponent of racism has become as de rigueur as the post match-talk to the media-blame the referee session? I would hope that I am not too cynical to believe this sort of nonsense, but it´s rather hard to believe that these players, all of them with few similar incidents before hand, are all racists with an agenda attached to their football boots.
Is it that we are too sensitive and we are bringing up the race card even if it doesn´t apply in a footballing sense or is it real? It´s obvious that we have ethnic, religious and racial problems running through the fabric of our game, but where are we directing our attentions? Blaming the player is abdicating responsibility at the source. The English FA, the Spanish FA, UEFA and FiFA are all to blame for not taking a stronger stand against racists in Europe. Are these incidents any worse than the institutional racism that is going on in Eastern Europe? Are we concerned about Euro 2012 in Poland and in the Ukraine at all? What about the World Cup in Russian in 2018? That worries more than individual incidents in hotly contested domestic matches.