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Racism calls for a tough response

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Flares dampen Sydney derby blockbuster

Michael Lynch and Scott Spits review the weekend A-League action, including the fiery Sydney derby.

PT0M0S 620 349


WHEN sporting authorities talk about zero tolerance for racial abuse, they have to mean what they say – and start dishing out heavy penalties – bans and fines – for players and fans who abuse opponents or players of rival clubs on the basis of their skin colour.

No mealy-mouthed equivocation, no double standards because one perpetrator is a star player and the other isn't, no dual sentence provisions because one racist chanter on the terraces is a teenager and the other a 50-year-old.

Offenders have to be made aware that such abuse has no place in the modern world by using punishments they understand – suspending players, and depriving fans of the right to watch their team.

Racism raised its ugly head on a controversial weekend for the A-League, along with the vexed issue of flares, following the Sydney-Western Sydney Wanderers clash that took place in a fevered atmosphere at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

Wellington's Paul Ifill alleged he was racially abused by a small section of the Hindmarsh crowd during his side's loss to Adelaide on Sunday afternoon.

Ifill is one of the best players in the league and has made an enormous impression since coming to New Zealand after spending the bulk of his career in England with Millwall, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United.

He is also black – one of a growing number of black players, some from England, some from Africa and many of local origin, who are making a mark in the A-League.

As the number of black or mixed-race players in the competition increases, the FFA has to ensure that it cracks down on any supporters who abuse players on the basis of skin colour.

For the defenders of the racists who seek to explain it all away as good-natured banter, that is not good enough. It's not banter. It is rude, ignorant and prejudiced.

The fact that this is not self-evident to some illustrates that this is not a sport-specific problem but, as we all know, a societal one.

Too many, alas, want to use sporting occasions to display their prejudice.

Flares were also a topic of debate after the Sydney derby. For soccer haters, flares offer them a chance to accuse supporters of putting lives in danger and sparking riots. Flares might be a big part of the game in Croatia, Italy, and other parts of Europe. They are not a part of the game here.

They can hurt people and cause distress. And they also create problems for the club whose supporters let them off, sullying the club's image and attracting fines.

Flares are not a societal problem. They are a problem with a mainly youthful, small section of soccer supporters who seem to think it's cool to copy what most of them have only seen on television. The sooner they wise up the better, as clubs will crack down hard on the perpetrators. Is ripping one really worth a five-year ban?

<p><b>Australia</b> (1st innings) 5-450 decl<br>
<b>Sri Lanka</b> (1st innings) 336<br>
<b>Australia</b> (2nd Innings - overnight 0-27)<br>
E COWAN b Welegedara 56<br>
D WARNER c P Jayawardene b Herath 68<br>
P HUGHES b Eranga 16<br>
S WATSON st P Jayawardene b Herath 5<br>
M WADE c Kulasekara b Herath 11<br>
M CLARKE (retired hurt) 57<br>
M HUSSEY not out 31<br>
P SIDDLE c P Jayawardene b Welegedara 4<br>
M STARC lbw b b Welegedara 5<br>
N LYON b Herath 11<br>
B HILFENHAUS lbw b b Herath 0<br>
<b>Sundries</b> (10lb, 4nb) 14<br>
<b>Total</b> 278<br>
<b>Fall of wickets:</b> 132 (Warner), 140 (Cowan), 153 (Watson), 165 (Hughes), 181 (Wade), 250 (Siddle), 256 (Starc), 271 (Lyon), 278 (Hilfenhaus). <br>
<b>Bowling:</b> N Kulasekara 12-3-24-0 (1nb), C Welegedara 22-3-89-3 (3nb), T Dilshan 2-0-2-0, S Eranga 11-0-53-1, A Mathews 5-2-5-0, R Herath 21.5-2-95-5.
<b>Sri Lanka</b> (2nd Innings)<br>
D KARUNARATNE b Starc 30<br>
T DILSHAN c Wade b Watson 11<br>
K SANGAKKARA not out 18<br>
M JAYAWARDENE not out 5<br>
<b>Sundries</b> (1b) 1<br>
<b>Total</b> (2 wkts - close) 65<br>
<b>Fall of wickets:</b> 26 (Dilshan), 47 (Karunaratne). Bowling: M Starc 10-4-21-1, P Siddle 7-3-12-0, S Watson 9-4-10-1, N Lyon 10-3-16-0, M Hussey 1-0-5-0.</p>
<b>7-418</b> - West Indies v Australia, St John's, 2003<br>
<b>4-414</b> - South Africa v Australia, Perth, 2008<br>
<b>4-406</b> - India v West Indies, Port of Spain, 1976<br>
<b>3-404</b> - Australia v England, Leeds, 1948<br>
<b>4-387</b> - India v England, Chennai, 2008<br>
<b>410</b> - v Australia, Hobart, 2007 (lost)<br>
<b>4-391</b> - v Pakistan, Colombo, 2009 (draw)<br>
<b>9-352</b> - v South Africa, Colombo, 2006 (won)<br>
<b>348</b> - v Australia, Hobart, 1989 (lost)<br>
<b>6-344</b> - v New Zealand, Hamilton, 1991 (draw)<br>
<b>6-369</b> - Australia v Pakistan, 1999</p>ax

7 comments so far

  • Yes racism does need a strong response. The problem is what the definition of racism is. we are now so politically correct that even referring to a race or religion is deemed racist whether there is intent or not.
    If we all became a bit more reasonable and not so ridiculous in our definitions it may be a lot easier.

    I recall my daughter in yr 12 being called a racist by a teacher for answering a question about stereotypes with the answer Asian.. That is how deformed our definitions have become.

    peter gc
    Date and time
    December 18, 2012, 1:44PM
    • Thankfully the ethnic based days of the NSL are gone - the racism amongst what I assume to be a small minority just needs to be put down at every opportunity. The AFL and NRL have had their issues too - it's not a code but individuals who need to be frozen out.

      However the flares IS a code thing - and soccer in this country needs to ensure that flares are never tolerated. Like fire crackers in the past - it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. And inside a sports stadium - it's not even fun and games.

      Michael C
      Date and time
      December 18, 2012, 2:13PM
      • 'Flares...They are not a part of the game here.'
        Speak for yourself. I'm not sure what qualifies you to make that aspersion. Obviously you haven't attended much Australian football. Maybe you should stick to writing about what you know, for example inherit and long standing racism in UK football. That's when the age isn't referring to flares in Croatia and Italy and showing footage from Chile in it's video section.

        contro il calcio moderno
        Date and time
        December 18, 2012, 2:41PM
        • Could not agree more, Australia is the most racist country on earth. Fancy letting 99,000 Australian's including 55,000 children sleep on the streets every night, when we give illegal arrivals, accomodation, internet, newstart, medical, clothing, food, phone cards, visa's etc.

          Date and time
          December 18, 2012, 3:50PM
          • Whilst I agree that prejudice against somebody simply because of the skin colour is utterly ridiculous and hard to understand, Australia needs to avoid going down the line of the UK, where the hunt for "racists under the beds" has taken on McCarthyite proportions. Selective "Racism" now seems to occupy. from an official standpoint, (and therefore take up valuable police time) a gravity out of all proportion to other much more heinous crimes, and is a convenient label thrown all too often at someone whose viewpoint differs from your own, or whose remarks have been misheard or misunderstood (viz EPL Ref Mark Clattenburg's recent problems at Chelsea which were proved to be entirely unfounded)

            Beware of things getting out of hand
            Date and time
            December 18, 2012, 4:00PM
            • Well written article Lynch, i completely agree and its about time Racism is taken seriously as a major issue in Australian society, with sports being a very good place to start combating it. Its not enough for a sporting body to say that they don't support racism, what's important is to punish those who perpetrate it.

              When accused of Racism, Australians are quick to point out "Racism happens everywhere" , as if finding comfort in comparing themselves with (usually) third world nations. Well yes it does, but NOT at the scale we have it in Australia. Its NOT "Good Fun" to be RACIST, its wrong, criminal, dehumanizing and sign of a sick twisted society. In the USA & UK racists would be banned, sometime for LIFE from attending sporting events. Players who are racists are CELEBRATED too often in Australia, but in other developed nations they will shamed to death by the media, forced to apologize and hide for the rest of their careers.

              Enough is enough, Its 2012 and i just can't believe we still "debate" whether something is racist or not, and the way racism is allowed at every level of our society, from our unfortunate politicians, to our celebrities and sportsmen. Racists must be called for what they are and punished accordingly. The Media needs to play a role in promoting and educating people about Racism, rather than simply "debating" Racism. Its not a debate, its a fact.

              James Butler
              Date and time
              December 18, 2012, 4:42PM
              • These problems have been common within soccer for many years and will continue unless the administrators do something to restrict the hooligans of the game being part of the action

                Date and time
                December 18, 2012, 11:56PM

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