Like the mental illness taboo explored in last week’s post, racism is another topic we’d often prefer to sweep under the rug.
Thanks to a shocking half-hour documentary which aired Monday night on BBC Panorama, doing so has become all but impossible. At least for the next several weeks, anyways.
The BBC documentary, entitled Stadiums of Hate, exposes a kind of darkness I honestly didn’t think still existed (or, at the very least, not in any sort of public setting).
In anticipation of the rapidly approaching UEFA Euro 2012 football championship (soccer, for those of us on the other side of the pond), reporter Chris Rogers spent a month attending football matches in the two host countries of Poland and Ukraine.
What he discovered there was nothing short of appalling…
Antisemitism Still Raging
At one match Rogers attended while in Poland, hundreds (if not thousands) of fans are seen shouting the following chant (translation from documentary):
(they then begin jumping)
Hey, hey, who’s not jumping is a jew;
hey, hey, who’s not jumping is a jew.
Death, death to the Jewish whore.
Death, death to the Jewish whore.
Variations of the Nazi salute are seen frequently and at several different matches, integrated into other chants and performed by large portions of the crowds.
“It was a gesture I would see at every Ukrainian game I went to,” said Rogers.
Balotelli Issues Advance Warning
Jews were by no means the only target.
Black players have continued to be the victims of overt racism, with fans throwing bananas and making monkey sounds at players on several occasions.
The problem surely isn’t exclusive to Poland and Ukraine. Previous incidents in Italy have prompted Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli to issue an incredibly blunt warning ahead of the tournament, saying:
“If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail because I will kill them.”
It’s unclear if Balotelli was simply referring to the previous incident (where someone threw a banana at him while in a bar but the police arrived before he could retaliate), for he’s also stated, in reference to racism at Euro 2012, the following:
“Let’s see what happens at the Euros. I hope it will pass without problem. I really couldn’t deal with that. If it happened I would walk off the pitch and return home. (…) We are in 2012. It’s not possible.”
The Most Shocking Scene
Though there’s a lot of competition for this title, I think perhaps the most shocking scene in the documentary comes towards the end, when a group of Asian fans sitting on the front row of the family section is violently attacked by a mob of other fans- completely unprompted and for no reason other than their race.
I honestly don’t know what’s more incredible:
-That the attackers and the victims were both cheering for the home team.
-That the attackers sought out the victims from an entirely different part of the stadium.
-That the assault continued for minutes with NO POLICE ever stepping in to stop it, despite the fact that everyone in the stadium was watching and many police were present (a stadium official did eventually come to escort the victims out).
With the tournament set to start in just over a week, there have already been reports that the families of some black players have refused to attend.
I don’t think anyone can blame them.
Photo Credit: Poland Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Creative Commons)
This week’s topic (also known as the Weekly Curiosity) is racism. Check back each weekday at 12:34pm for a new post exploring this idea. In the meantime, here are three ways you can join the quest: