The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game

rguilmar

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The game we all love is consistently marred by racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on. The events in Spain surrounding Vini Jr have been well documented. “The Chant” from L Tri fans has been discussed here at length. Consider this a place to share and discuss the ugly behavior by fans, players, and club officials ruining the game

In Spain’s third tier, a goal keeper, Cheikh Kane Sarr, went into the stands to confront people hurling racists insults at him. He was given a red card and suspended for two games (which is more a criticism of the inflexibility of the rules).

Closer to home, the NYRB U-17 team has left the GA tournament after two incidents of racism that they felt went poorly addressed by MLS and MLS Next.

Juve are pursuing a punishment against Lazio (surprise, surprise) for their fans’ racist chants against Weston McKennie.

FMF, CONCACAF, FIFA, and even Mexican players have tried in vain to get rid of the anti-gay chant coming from their fans, but the reality is that he punishments-stopping games, fines, empty stadiums- do not hurt the fans.

Luis Rubiales has been charged with corruption in Spain. This is on top of the fallout from “The Kiss” that rightfully cost him his job.

These incidents are all within the last week or two, and I’m probably missing some. What other incidents am I missing? What can be done by teams, leagues, and confederations to combat these types of incidents?
 

Mighty Joe Young

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trs

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An overview of Tragedy Chanting in the UK

https://theathletic.com/5390976/2024/04/06/tragedy-chanting-what-manchester-united-liverpool/?source=user_shared_article

My own view is this should not be a police matter - but this is the UK where free speech is increasingly diminished - witness the Tory government’s response to Palestinian protests - so it’s not surprising.

The behaviour is , of course odious. I don’t mind banning participants from games , but arrests?
Agreed, it's a difficult situation. Vinicius here in Spain has been calling for arrests, saying that racism is illegal in Brazil and should be in Spain as well. As a while male, I have a hard time making any real claims about the legality of racism in a country like Spain. I'm certainly in favor of enforcing laws against hate crimes. Is blatantly chanting horrifically racist or homophobic shit at people a hate crime? That's the question for me. It might be, but wow, it would be hard to legislate, I would think.

As you said, I certainly do think it is the responsibility of teams to ban these individuals from games. I would think that it is possible to identify and track groups of people screaming terrible shit in a closed environment at a specific target. Given how much it seems to mean for these hateful people to be at games so they can spew this shit, you would think outright bans from stadiums would be a rather targeted and effective punishment. I support movements to reduce racism, but I don't really support those that are in leadership positions at La Liga (for example) to be in charge of reducing racism in Spain. If La Liga wants to continue to enjoy being the national top league in Spain, I do think it's proper for the government to mandate that they prevent certain actions from occurring in stadiums. It is then, though, up to our society here to look to eradicate racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.

I agree that infringing upon speech is a dangerous tactic. Banning speech is a last-ditch strategy and might do more harm than good. Looking for the origins of the hateful speech is what we need to do, but that's not a new idea, and it's really difficult to do.

This also I suppose gets a bit V&N, but yeah, it was depressing to read about the nonsense that continues to exist in Spanish soccer last weekend.
 

trs

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On a related note, this rather well-done piece from ESPN the Magazine (remember that?) quite a few years back gets into the issue of racism in Serie A - https://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/9338962/when-beautiful-game-turns-ugly. Similarly titled to this thread in fact, that's what reminded me of the piece.

I have my students read this when we're looking at the relationship between knowledge and language. There's always a decent conversation about intention and meaning in terms of language that follows. It also brings up the idea of empathy quite well too -- something that I think gets missed in a lot of discussions about racism in popular culture.
 

scott bankheadcase

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An old friend of mine, Mark Wright, does a poscast called press pause. Last October he had Shaka Hislop on to talk about the red card to racism initiative.

Worth checking out if you have time.
 

rguilmar

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It’s a fine line to draw between protecting free speech and preventing some of the more egregious behavior. Atletico Madrid have barred over 200 fans from their stadium for racist behavior. Individuals in Spain have been charged for hanging a Vini Jr dummy in effigy. Whatever is being now though isn’t enough. The heartbreaking thing about some of the footage in Spain was the young kids involved in the monkey chants. I imagine kids at Mexico games are impacted by the chant, and in this case I think the ultimate punishment- abandonment of the match- is exactly what the offenders want.

I hesitate to have empty stadiums and teams kicked out of competitions, knowing full well that even Real Betis (generally a left leaning crowd) have a small but vocal far right group of ultras. This is true of almost every club short of maybe the St. Paulis, Rayo Vallecanos, and Cadizs of the world. If that’s what it takes to stamp some of the worst behavior out of the game though, I would understand it.

Under the tragedy chanting rules, can we not make Thurman Munson jokes anymore?

Just asking.
I think Munson chants are fine. Corey Lidle is still too soon
 

jose melendez

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It’s a fine line to draw between protecting free speech and preventing some of the more egregious behavior. Atletico Madrid have barred over 200 fans from their stadium for racist behavior. Individuals in Spain have been charged for hanging a Vini Jr dummy in effigy. Whatever is being now though isn’t enough. The heartbreaking thing about some of the footage in Spain was the young kids involved in the monkey chants. I imagine kids at Mexico games are impacted by the chant, and in this case I think the ultimate punishment- abandonment of the match- is exactly what the offenders want.

I hesitate to have empty stadiums and teams kicked out of competitions, knowing full well that even Real Betis (generally a left leaning crowd) have a small but vocal far right group of ultras. This is true of almost every club short of maybe the St. Paulis, Rayo Vallecanos, and Cadizs of the world. If that’s what it takes to stamp some of the worst behavior out of the game though, I would understand it.



I think Munson chants are fine. Corey Lidle is still too soon
This lead me to check... 18 years since Lidle. That's a long time.
 

CodPiece XL

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Just a general comment. I’ve never been in favor of collective punishment. Punishing the vast majority of normal good behaved fans just because of the actions of a small minority. But that’s just me.
 

rguilmar

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Just a general comment. I’ve never been in favor of collective punishment. Punishing the vast majority of normal good behaved fans just because of the actions of a small minority. But that’s just me.
In a vacuum, I agree with you. I can only look at things through the incidents and behaviors I know best, which are in La Liga and as it relates to US soccer. In La Liga, they have gone with punishing only individuals literally caught in the act, long or lifetime bans being the most common punishment. I might have mentioned it here or elsewhere, but Atletico Madrid have given lifetime bans to over 200 fans over the years. Atleti fans come from all walks of life, and most are decent people as well as amazing fans. That being said, one supporters group, Frente Atletico, is made up of full on neo Nazis. Feel free to look them up to see their laundry list of "accomplishments". The group has been barred from the stadium in the past. 15 of these ultras were given lifetime bans all for one incident. I know what happened to Vini Jr. at Mestalla got the world's attention, but his treatment at the Metropolitano was as bad, or even worse. The Frente even went after an 8 year old girl wearing a Vinicius jersey. It just does not stop. In short, punishing the individuals isn't working in Spain. In some ways, it's gotten worse.

When it comes to "The Chant" by Mexico fans, I don't even know what a punishment would even look like. Barring an individual from going to future games? It might be the only time they go to an El Tri game, and they play all over the US. I'm not sure what it would accomplish, so the punishments in CONCACAF focus on stopping the game itself. The Chant only seems to come out when Mexico are losing late in games. The fans know what the punishment is and they are actively trying to get punished- stop the game temporarily then force abandonment. Literally the punishment is making fan behavior worse.

Both in Spain and in CONCACAF, what they are doing is not working. I don't know what a proper fix is, but the reason I am ok punishing full fan bases with empty stadiums, removal from competitions, point deductions etc. is more in the hope that it is enough of a deterrent for this kind of behavior. Of course, then you need to follow through when a club's or national team's fans continue their reprehensible behavior.
 

rguilmar

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I posted this in the Spanish thread but fits better here. ICYMI, a fan at the Atletico Madrid- Athletic Club made monkey chants at Nico Williams (who later scored, ran over to that section of the crowd, and pointed to his skin). Protocol was followed: the game was stopped, an announcement was made, the fan has been identified, and Atleti will bar him for life. The club have had their difficulties with one portion of their ultras, and now La Liga have brought the hammer down. I don’t want to paint all Atleti as racist, as they are not and several Atleti fans post here, but the Frente need to be dealt with and this is the way. Close that part of the stands for the rest of the season. The fine means nothing.

View: https://twitter.com/laligaextra/status/1785345977328513029?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ



The Competitions Committee have decided to partially close the stands of Atletico Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano. ‍⚖

The stands where Nico Williams was racially abused will not see football until next season.

Atletico Madrid will also be fined €20,000.
 

rguilmar

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I know we talked about Paqueta somewhere, but I can’t find it at the moment. Players getting involved in betting is becoming its own ugly feature. He’s been charged with misconduct, accused of intentionally seeking to get carded to impact betting markets.

View: https://twitter.com/jacobsben/status/1793659421177844148?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ

The internet is filled wi the examples where he left a leg in suspiciously long to get called for late challenges.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I know we talked about Paqueta somewhere, but I can’t find it at the moment. Players getting involved in betting is becoming its own ugly feature. He’s been charged with misconduct, accused of intentionally seeking to get carded to impact betting markets.

View: https://twitter.com/jacobsben/status/1793659421177844148?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ

The internet is filled wi the examples where he left a leg in suspiciously long to get called for late challenges.
Apparently there were a suspicious number of bets coming in from Paqueta Island (Paqueta isn't his real last name, it's a nickname because he's from Paqueta Island)
 

sdiaz1

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Vini, Jude and now Mbappe (and Endrick) If you are a scumbag racist who likes La Liga, the next decade may be tough for you.
 

debster812

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All of these 'incidents' are just the worst. And it starts early. My 20-something son is a club soccer coach, paying his dues, but this is what he wants to do as his life's work. He was filling in for another coach in a game a year or so ago. One of his players received a straight red for grabbing an opponent around the neck and flinging him to the ground. (Context: 15 year old boys). My son met his player coming off the pitch, to get his story, and the opponent called him a 'Stupid N-word'. My son immediately approached the ref on his sideline, and called the center ref over. Center ref did not hear the slur, only saw the aftermath. My son got a yellow card for harassing the refs, and ultimately his player left the field. Before he left, my son told him "You are not in trouble with me, with your regular coach or with the club, I will ALWAYS defend my players, and what he said is NOT OK, but you do have to leave the field". He and his parents watched the end of the game from the parking lot, and they ended up in a draw. And, let's just say the speaker of the slur did NOT have a comfortable 2nd half. The kid's teammates TOTALLY had his back. Nothing dirty or egregious, but lots of good strong physical play.

My son still has the thank you note from the parents of the player, and the player himself, thanking him for believing him, and standing up for him with the refs.

Additional context, my son is white, from a very small town in MA, and although we raised him as best we can, college is where his world view developed. He played for a MA State University, and his teammates (and roommates) were from all over the Caribbean, Central & South America, Ghana, Nigeria, and Mexico.

It happens in youth soccer, high school, college, semi pro, and professional. It's a horrible mark against The Beautiful Game, and I'm hopeful my son's generation can start to effect change.
 

rguilmar

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I spent ten years coaching soccer at a high school just outside of Boston. The bulk of our student-athletes were immigrants or the children of immigrants, mostly from Brazil, El Salvador, and Haiti. I can very much sympathize with your son @debster812. The things my players heard on the field from opponents was shocking, awful racist statements and anti-immigrant things. Lots of monkey sounds and stuff like that too. There was even one state tournament game where the opponent’s parents and fans were openly yelling horrendous things at our players. We won the game in extra time and still filed a protest with the MIAA (something usually reserved for losing teams) because of the behavior of their fans. I can’t tell you how many players left the field in tears. At the sub-varsity level, several of our games ended with a fistfight or our team walking off the field so it didn’t end in a fistfight.
 

debster812

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@rguilmar - he's done outreach clinics in 'immigrant communities' and says there are 12 year olds that smoke him, and he LOVES it.

I also remember a college game of his where he was walking off at halftime talking to the opponent he had been marking. I figured it was someone he knew from his club playing days, and asked him about it after the game. He had no idea who it was, but again, this guy felt it was OK to call the center ref an 'n-word'. My son was inviting the kid to come meet his team, and say the same thing to them.....Mind you, my son is 5'10, maybe 160 lbs, and the other player was 6'2", and probably 200 lbs.
 

67YAZ

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I’m still trying to wrap my head around this - after winning the Copa, some Argentine players were live streamed singing a song that took digs at the immigrant origins of French national team players.

View: https://twitter.com/dw_sports/status/1813162305254793615?s=46&t=GfuLFvTYcOxcFiCZjyIYZw


Enzo, featured in the video, was unfollowed on socials by several of his Chelsea teammates. Wesley Fofana called it out on his account and is now getting tons of racist bile in the replies.

View: https://twitter.com/wesley_fofana3/status/1813286455256519160?s=46&t=GfuLFvTYcOxcFiCZjyIYZw


And apparently the French FA has filed a complaint with FIFA.
 
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greatpiino

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I've read elsewhere that they sang some other much more vile things that aren't fit to be written here. It's all just so depressing. Realistically, does anyone expect FIFA to take any meaningful action? I don't even know what that would look like.
 

Zososoxfan

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I've read elsewhere that they sang some other much more vile things that aren't fit to be written here. It's all just so depressing. Realistically, does anyone expect FIFA to take any meaningful action? I don't even know what that would look like.
I'm not sure what you're talking about, but yeah, this sucks.

I'm unclear why Enzo is being singled out though. It seems like a bunch of players were singing along too, although it's hard to tell who. Is it because he posted it?

I was more than OK when Argentina were signing songs in '22 ripping on Mbappe for his smug comments about European vs. South American football ('a moment of silence for Mbappe'), but this seems to have crossed a lot of lines. It's discouraging because world class football seems like a highly interracial setting and most players want to get along with their mates and they spend an insane amount of time with each other. Good on Chelsea for moving swiftly to punish him.
 

pedro1918

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Liverpool U18s walk off pitch twice at German youth tournament after alleged racist abuse

Liverpool Under-18s walked off the pitch twice in successive days at a youth tournament in Germany after one of their players was allegedly racially abused.

Academy staff are providing support to the youngster involved and the Premier League club have urged organisers of the Bundesliga Cup in the city of Schwabisch Hall to conduct an investigation.
The first incident reportedly happened against Hoffenheim on Friday and the second when Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s side faced Frankfurt on Saturday.

During Friday’s game, the Liverpool player claimed he was called the N-word, prompting the team to leave the field. Hoffenheim later claimed that their player had used the German slang term ‘digga,’ meaning ‘bro’. Liverpool staff then approached tournament organisers and were promised, to avoid any confusion, that all teams had been informed that the use of the word would not be tolerated.

However, there were similar issues against Frankfurt on Saturday. In both instances the exact term used towards the Liverpool player is disputed.

A club statement read: “Liverpool can confirm that a member of our under-18s team reported he was racially abused by an opponent while playing in the Bundesliga Cup youth tournament at Schwabisch Hall in Germany on Friday.

“The player immediately alerted the match official, his team-mates, and our coaching staff. Consequently, LFC’s management team decided to stop the game and leave the pitch together.

“In a further incident, the same player was the target of abuse during a fixture in the tournament today. Again, the player alerted his team-mates and coaching staff and our management team opted to leave the pitch once more.

“We are proud of our player for his prompt actions in reporting the incident and the maturity of his response. He and any of his team-mates affected are being supported by the academy safeguarding team. The club calls upon our opponents and the tournament organisers to conduct an urgent and thorough investigation into the incident.”

Frankfurt sporting director Timmo Hardung told German newspaper Bild “we can rule out racism” and claimed it had been a misunderstanding, with their player adamant he had used the slang term ‘digga’.
The "digga" excuse is new to me. Is this a thing in Germany?
 

Schnerres

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I am a teacher, i have contact with hundreds of kids. Yes, everybody is using ‚Digga‘ (from actual Word ‚dicker‘, which means big person.
Idk if this is a real excuse, but it is used in many ways..guys are using it at the start of many sentences (like bro, i guess) but also to complain, which would make more sense to me in These cases..like some guy is complaining to the Liverpool boy about hard fouls or whatever, he doesn‘t know his name then he will say ‚Digga!‘