…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
My interest in so called spectators’ sport is extremely marginal – I admit that in the last five years I have watched about five hours of golf. It has something to do with my marginal interest in sport generally, with an exception of above mentioned golf. Also, hunting and fishing that so far, thank God, are not televised sports.
In my youth, mostly because of peer and parental pressure, I participated in team sports – football, in Australia called soccer, in particular. Being chubby, clumsy and bespectacled I was not a good player and I was often on the receiving end of, sometimes vicious, abuse. But so were many others, and I recall that as a group we were abused by gypsy boys, hoping to provoke us into some physical retaliation so that their parents could be brought in to protect them (and confiscate/steal the ball). Was the abuse racial? Possibly, but we did not think in those terms then. We were not the victims of the post-modern, politically correct educational system. We were not victims, and refused to be victims. Naturally we were not happy, but not being robust, professional sportsmen we didn’t call security guards or lawyers. We were just undeveloped, insecure kids.
It is almost forty years since I was taken by a friend to a football match, in order to educate me in things Australian. I remember constant interruptions of the play and vile abuse by spectators, of players, other fans and most importantly, of the referee. The “ape” sobriquet was so mild that it was almost a term of endearment.
The times have changed. Hysteria raised by some hirsute cry-baby about a shout by a thirteen-year old girl is at once sad and laughable. By the way, some of my friends, more familiar with Australian spectators, suspect that the whole incident was a deliberate set up by the forces of racial discord. They question how a player, under pressure and presumably concentrating on a game i.e. football, not the “blame-the-whitey” one, could select from a cacophony of profusion of (probably) non-complimentary yells a single one, however shrill it may have been. I find it puzzling that a finger pointing by a football player, however Aboriginal his ancestors might have been, can result in security guards (in German – Schutzstaffel) descending upon a child and forcibly removing her away from her parent. It is almost Mengele-like, or, staying with my loose and unfair analogies closer home, a bone-pointing.
It seems that the forces of darkness, fomenting racial hatred where there is almost none, hope to create a situation akin to that in another country:
“Fighting racism in football is hard everywhere. In Israel it can be costly. Since Beitar Jerusalem recruited two Muslim footballers for the first time in its 75-year history in January, the team has not won a league match. Its clubouse has been burned down. Jewish Israeli fans in their thousands have boycotted the club, ticket sales slumped, sponsors have edged away, and the side has dived from the upper rungs of the premier league. “Beitar is dead,” gloats a commentator, calling for the managers to quit. Only a fraction of fans still turn out for matches. When one of the Muslim players (both Chechens, as it happens) touches the ball, many boo; if he scores, hundred walk out.
… Cries of “Death to Arabs!” disappeared from Beitar’s stands after Israel’s football federation deducted points for racism. Phalanxes of riot police monitor Beitar’s terraces for chants of “Muhammad is dead”. (The Economist 13th April 2013, p.47)