Football’s ugly side renders its head again

Who’d have thought that in the year 2011 racism would still be a major issue in the world of football? People involved in the sport who are greatly admired by millions of people the world over have very recently stirred up a lot of controversy with idiotic and sick comments and ideologies. Some of the most famous faces in the game, no less, seem to be living with backwards beliefs and it quite simply has no place in football, nor anywhere else in the world.

The French Football Federation (FFF) have gotten themselves into a bit of a difficult situation. Today sees the beginning of an inquiry into racism allegations on the French national team manager Laurent Blanc. The former Napoli, Barcelona and Manchester United player has been caught complaining about the number of black and arab young footballers in the French youth academies.

A recording of a meeting leaked a couple of weeks ago, in which he proposed a race quota limiting the number of non-white footballers can join the academies. Blanc also spoke through means of racial generalization, saying he wanted less “big, strong, fast” (black) players to be in the academies, and preferred the “smaller, more skillful” (white) ones who Blanc sees as being dominated and marginalized.

French national coach Blanc

Eric Mombaerts, a French national team youth coach, has stated his side’s reasoning behind the proposed regulations. He believes that players of dual nationality are coming to France, making use of their training facilities to become great footballers, and then turning their back on France and opting to play for their country of birth or heritage. However if you look at the current French side, this theory appears to be proven wrong.

Flourent Malouda, Samir Nasri, Patrice Evra, Adil Rami, Bacary Sagna, Steve Mandanda, Yann M’Vila, Alou Diarra, Karim Benzema and Loic Rémy are all players in the current French squad who were either born in or descend from Africa. That’s ten players of the twenty-three man squad, almost half. It seems amazing how Mombaerts can feel that players turn their back on France.

How ridiculous these ideas are, I can’t quite put in words. From a footballing point of view, first of all it simply makes no sense. Blanc presumably sees himself as trying to improve the footballing standards of his country, in his own special way. However should the FFF agree with these absurd notions, they would only be shooting themselves in the foot.

They could potentially miss out on the next truly great footballer the world has to offer. There’s nothing to say that there’s no 11 year old kid from Nantes or anywhere running rings around players years older than him. We can’t know for sure that that person doesn’t exist. Nobody can. It’s the job of the FFF (should they wish to succeed) to find these players and develop their talents into some of the best in the world. If Blanc ignores certain players because of their race or creed, then there’s the potential that the next Leo Messi could be doing your taxes, selling you your shopping or fixing your toilet in twenty years. Why ? Because his talents were ignored by some of the stupidest people in world football.

Desailly had a pivotal role in helping France win the World Cup

That’s from a purely footballing point of view. From a human point of view it’s simply disgusting and wrong to differentiate between people on the basis of colour.

Imagine now if Blanc’s race quota had been introduced into the FFF twenty to twenty five years ago. What if a 13 year old Thierry Henry, a 14 year old Patrick Vieira or a 15 year old Marcel Desailly had been told they weren’t good enough and had to go home from their footballing academies? The face of French and world football would have been very different, for the worse, had that come to pass. Would France have been able to win the world cup and European championship in ’98 and ’00 respectively without their non-white players? I for one, doubt it.

Former France right-back Lillian Thuram has spoken out against Laurent Blanc. “Of course you feel hurt, of course” the former teammate of Blanc said in an interview. “Some people have short memories.”

Another incident in recent weeks that has caused some upset in football is the case of Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. Barcelona have recently played arch-rivals Real Madrid four times in the space of eighteen days, spanning across three different competitions. Undoubtedly, the players would begin to get sick of the sight of each other.

However, we couldn’t have expected Busquets to get sick at the sight of a certain Madrid player in the way he did.

The Catalan midfielder allegedly shouted “Mono! Mono!” at Real Madrid left-back Marcelo. ‘Mono’, translated to English means ‘monkey.’ Not only was Busquets’ (and his team’s) diving and play-acting despicable enough throughout the series of games, he then seemingly felt the need to racially abuse the Madrid player. Footage of the incident can be seen here, at the 1:54 mark.

There is simply no need for racism in the game of football, or indeed the world. It is fatuous, despicable and wrong on every level. The world is a much better place without it and football will be a much-improved game without these idiots.

Update: Today (May 10th), Laurent Blanc was acquitted from any alleged racism or discrimination.


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