What is a wrong turn
Racism in football - when the tone turns the corner into the wrong music
When the sound from the curve makes the wrong music
Racism is ubiquitous in football. The English top club Liverpool FC issued a list of prohibited words against racism and homophobia in the stadium. Spectators who do not obey the rules may be expelled from the stadium.
Footballers and fans can get a little rough. On and off the field of play, fecal injuries and other wickedness are pounded on the ears.
It's not the fine English way. That is why the traditional club FC Liverpool now wants to take action against abuse - and put discriminatory vocabulary on the index.
Words such as “Coon” (nigger), “Rent boy” (hustler) or “Cripple” (cripple) may no longer be used in the mouth.
Even subtle remarks like "Don't be a woman!" or "princess" are frowned upon in the future.
In a leaflet to players and fans it says: "The club wants to eradicate all forms of discrimination and discriminatory behavior on and next to the football field."
40 words landed on the index. Club employees had asked the supporters for weeks which terms were to be classified as discriminatory - and based on this they created a prohibited list.
The club came under fire in 2005 when fans with T-shirts expressed their sympathy for the player Luis Suárez.
The Liverpool attacker had insulted the French-Senegalese defender Patrice Evra of Manchester United because of the color of his skin.
On December 20, 2011, Suarez was suspended from the English Association for eight games and fined 40,000 pounds for racist remarks.
The case made international headlines. The reputable London daily “The Guardian” criticized the “hypocrisy” of the club: “You can't wear a Kick-It-Out T-shirt as a campaign against racism when it's happening on the field at the same time.”
The club management of Liverpool FC did not want to let the allegations sit on them - and set a good example themselves.
Rishi Jain, the association's social officer, told the Guardian: "As part of the club's ongoing efforts to combat all forms of discrimination and to stand up for equality and diversity, the association has committed itself to an extensive training and awareness-raising program."
That sounds like one of the usual good-humored declarations of intent. But the association lets words be followed by deeds. Liverpool is the first club to officially participate in an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) event.
The club was represented with a banner at Liverpool Pride, a gay and lesbian parade similar to Christopher Street Day.
The “Liverpool FC LGBT Supporters” page has 6,000 supporters on Facebook. This is still a modest size compared to the reach of the traditional club (12 million fans on Facebook), but the small group can create public awareness of the problem.
Liverpool, an old industrial city, has always been a painter's club, and in England belonging to the working class is particularly evident in the language (sociolects). That is why the club organizes themed events and workshops to raise awareness among its employees.
A guide should inform the participants about what is politically appropriate and what is not. "This program allows our employees to identify inappropriate language and act against it," says Rishi Jain.
There is praise from the Kick-It-Out Chairman Lord Ouseley: "It is a positive and proactive step to train the staff and security personnel in the stadium in this way."
There is an app where incidents can be reported. Spectators who do not obey the rules may be expelled from the stadium. It remains to be seen whether the fans will follow the instructions. It will be a while before a new tone sets in on Anfield Road.
Racist abuse is also part of everyday life in Italy's fan circles. Lazio in particular is notorious for its derailments. In 2005, the then Lazio captain Paolo di Canio built himself up in front of the curve and fervently showed the "Roman greeting".
The fascist gesture, which is similar to the Hitler salute, made him the icon of the ultra-camp of the «Irriducibili» (German «the indomitable»). The Lazio fans often wave swastika flags in the Olympic stadium at home and whip their players forward with “Duce-Duce” shouts.
The most recent incident occurred at the Supercup final between Lazio Rome and Juventus Turin (0: 4), when the dark-skinned Juve professionals Paul Pogba, Angelo Ogbonna and Kwadwo Asamoah were mocked with monkey noises.
That is a thorn in the side of the league bosses. They fear for the reputation of Serie A. The Italian football association FIGC wants to crack down on racist statements.
Clubs whose supporters attract attention due to racist misconduct must expect their fan curves to close in the future. If the incidents repeat themselves, the club has to pay a fine of 50,000 euros and play a game behind closed doors.
"We want to ban racists from the stadiums," said association president Giancarlo Abete. First consequence: At the season opener of Serie A last Sunday against Udinese Calcio, Lazio was not allowed to let spectators into the north curve of the Olympic Stadium.
An appeal was rejected by the FIGC sports court.
Nonetheless, court bans and fines are nothing new in Italian football. The sanctions have had little effect in the past. For one thing, the penalties are not sensitive enough. On the other hand, they leave the Ultras unimpressed.
Mario Balotelli, the enfant terrible of Italian football, gave a remarkable interview in the daily newspaper «La Repubblica» last week.
In it he said: "Racism cannot be erased, but I will do everything I can to beat it."
Balotelli knows what he's talking about. He is often exposed to racist resentment.
When the Milan striker encountered monkey noises again during the game against AS Roma in the Meazza Stadium, he defended himself and went to the referee. Referee Gianluca Rocchi interrupted the game for 97 seconds and threatened to abandon the game.
Roma captain Francesco Totti struggled to get his supporters to reason. There are no black Italians in the primitive curve worldview of the Tifosi.
On the current cover of the “Sports Illustrated” magazine, Balotelli poses in the style of a gladiator with a bare torso and arms outstretched.
On the left of the title is written in large letters: "He is Italian." And right: "He is African." However, it is questionable whether this will increase the acceptance of the national player, whose family comes from Ghana.
In Italy, a lot of education is still needed in the fight against xenophobia, politicians and officials are well aware of this. The Lazio pros set an example at the season opener against Udine and wore a jersey that read "We love football, we fight racism".
Fans can vote on a suitable slogan on Facebook. The supporters are divided. “I think it's a very good initiative, but I'm sure it won't help at all!” Wrote a user in the forum of the sports newspaper “Corriere dello Sport”.
And: "I'm tired of the fact that, as a Lazio fan, every time a small minority of idiots shout racist slogans, I'm held jointly responsible for it."
The problem is also rampant in the supposed model country of Germany. The dark-skinned player Danny da Costa, the son of an Angolan and a Congolese girl, was racially insulted two weeks ago in the second division match of his club FC Ingolstadt against 1860 Munich.
"Several people said they had to shout things like 'nigger' or 'black pig' in my direction when they threw in or hit the ball," said the 20-year-old professional footballer, who ran through all the junior teams of the German national football team.
"Whenever the ball came near me, there were also monkey sounds." Referee Florian Meyer interrupted the encounter. The German Football Association (DFB) has started investigations.
Although the German national soccer team with Jérôme Boateng, Lukas Podolski and Sami Khedira has some players with a migration background in their ranks, the tolerance towards dark-skinned players does not seem to be as pronounced in the soccer scene.
Ex-national player Gerald Asamoah was also repeatedly attacked because of his skin color. «The worst for me was after the 2006 World Cup when I thought these times were over. We all hugged each other. Then it went to Rostock, and I was the colored one again. That was really bitter, ”he said.
The structurally weak regions in eastern Germany prepare the breeding ground for xenophobia. Individual fan groups from Hansa Rostock, Energie Cottbus and Dynamo Dresden have repeatedly incited against ethnic minorities in the past.
The DFB and the clubs have taken various measures against discrimination in football (including a 10-point catalog, campaign weeks, fan projects).
But apparently the die-hard core of the supporters is not reached with such campaigns. The lowest instincts break through in the stadium.
The monkey sounds, once made socially acceptable by TV entertainer Harald Schmidt - he made fun of Oliver Kahn in his program - are dismissed as harmless provocation.
Football is a social lubricant - and obeys different codes than those of society.
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