John Terry‘s trial and the racist chants at the Euro Cup were just before my time at Rant (though I certainly had my say about the other word Terry used in his (in)famous insult of Anton Ferdinand). And these incidents appear to have fulfilled the “racism in soccer” quotient a lot this summer since this is only my first post on this topic here at Rant. This is weird because, let’s be honest, there is so much racism in soccer (or, at least, controversies surrounding race, if that terminology makes you feel better).
But lo and behold, thanks to some guy in Essex, England who tweeted racist things to Carlton Cole, the West Ham striker, and to England’s laws under which apparently, and gloriously, you can be held legally accountable for the hurtful and hateful garbage you spew on Twitter, racism and soccer meet once again in the public sphere. The man in Essex, whose tweets “questioned [Cole's] performance and used a racist term to describe him,” was arrested over the weekend. Cole responded to him with his own set of tweets:
“Listen, i take racism a lot lighter than others and i do understand the banter that comes a long with it to get under peoples skin but…
“… it can sometimes be hurtful & insulting, i don’t mind when people criticise me for having a bad game or they think I’m crap at football…
“…but just say that, whether i am crap or had a bad game has nothing to do with my race, creed or religion. lets just keep it FOOTBALL. Kapeesh?”
The man under investigation has now been bailed out.
What really is there to say here? This isn’t surprising. In the wake of the Terry trial, Simon Hattenstone wrote “Racism in football: putting the boot in,” which traces the long history of racism in the sport in England and focuses on the realities of being a black footballer nowadays. It is a definitive article that places all of these smaller moments of racism in a broader context and so gives them more weight.
Still, a man in Essex tweeting race-based insults at Cole isn’t earth-shattering news. This is true because, in large part, these types of often-overlooked moments of racism are mundane and they are ordinary, part of the everyday mosaic of both the soccer pitch and English (and European and American and so on) culture more generally (to the point where England passed a law that allows for the arrest of people who tweet racist things).
One never knows in what way racism and soccer will intertwine (the possibilities appear to be endless!) but I would bet that I’ll be back writing on this topic again very soon.