New week, same stories: Soccer still has no shortage of racism

Here’s your daily dose of new racism to wrap up your Monday. Three stories about more of the same, rinse and repeat racism. We cover them out of some combination of lingering disbelief — even though we know incidents like this are commonplace — and pseudo-journalistic (in my case) obligation.

The headlines cause a splash and meaningful conversations often take place in their wake, but as much as I’d like to, I rarely feel like reporting incidents of racism do much in terms of real progress. I’m not quite sure what new insight or emotional responses are left to offer. New week, same stories.

Feyenoord fans are being Feyenoord fans again. Supporters have already been punished by UEFA for racist behavior this season, but it seems they’ve opted to double-down last week by tossing an inflatable banana onto the field during their UEFA League game against Roma. Unwilling to limit their hooligan activites to racism, Feyenoord fans (reported totals vary between 23 and 45) were arrested in Rome the night before the game for vandalism, police assault, and general ass-holery.

Despite the track record of his club’s support, Feyenoord coach Fred Rutten volunteered to make a fool of himself and opined after the banana-toss that “There is such a fuss made about it. I don’t see it that way. We have different nationalities in our team. It’s nonsense. We make too much of it.” Pointing out the number of non-white players in your squad as a racism claim is in style these days. So, credit to Rutten for staying trendy.

“I couldn’t take it anymore and I only walked off after I kicked the ball away in protest and at the impotence I felt when I could see that no one was doing anything.”

“I leave this in the hands of the authorities so they can do something to end this racism,” Tejada wrote on his website. “We’re not advancing and it’s the same thing over and over. For how long?”

In Peru, Juan Aurich’s Panamanian striker Luis Tejada grew frustrated with the sameness of his racism experience. After being the target of abusive language from Cienciano, Tejada kicked a ball into the stands and walked off the field, refusing to return. While at his previous club this past October, Tejada also says he received racist taunts from Sporting Cristal fans. Rinse, repeat.

Finally, today — at least until I refresh my feed — it’s been alleged that Chelsea fans are once again being horrible commuters:

“Shortly after 10.30pm on Sunday, 1 March, officers were called to meet a Euston-to-Manchester Piccadilly train at Stoke, following reports of racist and abusive behaviour by a number of passengers, said to be football fans. Colleagues from Staffordshire Police also attended. Officers asked four men to leave the train at Stoke. We have spoken to two witnesses, and investigations continue. Rail passengers and staff have the right to travel and work in peace. Abusive behaviour on trains and at stations is unacceptable, and we will not hesitate to investigate any such incidents.”

I understand that my response to this “news” is just frustration creeping in. I truly believe that exposure and real public condemnation from reasonable, inclusivity-minded supporters — not faux-outrage from the media and public relations press releases from clubs — is the best avenue to affect real change. Progress can’t be made unless people have information available to them. Fans need to know when low-lifes walk among them, so they have the chance to police themselves.

But sometimes, on a day like this, when my newsfeed is flooded by more of the same bullshit, my faith waivers. I start to wonder if progress is even possible; or, at least, to what extent it’s possible. Is racism — or more accurately, bigotry and prejudice — inhert to human nature? Is it inevitable that “group think” (and alcohol) will only amplify the worst attributes of some fans, and bring us the sort of ridiculous extremes where functioning adults are throwing inflatable fruit at other human beings? I don’t have an answer, but I’m certain I’d I’ll be able to repeat this same post with three new stories this time next week.

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