Dani Alves and Lenny Henry

Today I saw one of those stories which manages to capture the best and worst aspects of mankind in one moment. The moment came during the Barcelona vs Villarreal football match when Dani Alves went to take a corner.

Alves

Alves

Alves, who plays for Barcelona was getting ready to take it when a fan threw a banana on the pitch.

The banana thrown at a black footballer is sadly all to familiar, although it has largely died down since the 80s when it was more common and racism was a more obvious stain on the the beautiful game.

John Barnes, playing for Liverpool, kicks a banana off the pitch in 1988

John Barnes, playing for Liverpool, kicks a banana off the pitch in 1988

But, sadly, racist dicks still exist and will still abuse and harass black athletes.

The good in this is Alves’ reaction, as he simply picked up the banana, ate it and took the corner, later explaining that his father had always told him that bananas are good for stopping cramps.

I mean that’s the kinda classy, restrained response to douchebags that shows it doesn’t bother him and Alves’ team would go on to win the match 3-2.

The Kick It Out and other anti-racism initiatives have done a fair amount of good work in stopping racism in football, but there is still a long way to go, and at times bodies like FIFA and UEFA seem unwilling to take hard line stances on it (see their failings in penalizing several Eastern European nations where racist chanting has been witnessed) and it still seems far too prevalent in certain places, particularly Eastern Europe, Italy and, as seen in Alves’ career, Spain.

This is disheartening news and depressing to see. I understand that often it would be unfair to penalize clubs for the actions of what is hopefully a minority among the fans, but perhaps more could be done to find and punish the perpetrators. But in cases such as Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg, who had several distasteful incidents occur perhaps a punishment against the club is justified, as they appear to be failing to act or curb it

I think often the problem here in Britain is that we like to point the finger at Eastern Europe and Spain, where the racism is more obvious (like the Lewis Hamilton incident in Spain a few years back), and pat ourselves on the back for kicking it out. The fact is, racism is still a problem here, despite it being diminished, and still occurs at football games although it appears the FA and police are slightly more proactive in pursuing the matter, and managers like Ian Holloway and Harry Redknapp have been outspoken in their condemnation of racist fans.

But racism is still there, and not just confined to sport. It even rears its head in British politics, both in the outspokenly racist BNP and EDL, but also in the depressingly popular UKIP.

UKIP, with their “Euro-skeptic” stance always have the whiff of xenophobia and racism about them, despite trying to hide it. It does occasionally bubble to the surface however, such as this week where one of their candidates for the council elections next month, William Henwood stated that comedian Lenny Henry should move to “a black country” after Henry commented on the lack of ethnic minorities on British TV.

Henwood tweeted the following:

He should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites.

William Henwood racist dickhead

William Henwood racist dickhead

This is one of several recent slip ups by UKIP, which will hopefully cost them votes as they start to reveal more of their bigotry and hypocrisy.

Particularly galling is the fact that Henwood chose to have a pop at Henry, who is something of a natural treasure. As well as being a popular entertainer, Henry was one of the founding fathers of the Comic Relief charity, meaning that Henry has done a damn sight more good for Britain and the world than UKIP does. Henry’s work shows the qualities that Britain should celebrate about itself- charity and helping others.

Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry

 

I hate to agree with a Conservative, but Lord Debden hit the nail on the head when he said that “UKIP stands for the worst in human beings: our prejudice, selfishness, and fear”.

We can’t afford to get complacent or blind to racism, it is still a cancer on our society and we need to stamp it out, whether it comes from a politican, football fan or random in the street. If we witness racism we need to call it out, and voice our disapproval, not ignore it and hope it goes away.

Voicing our disgust will discourage people to voice their hatred and may cause them to reevaluate their way of thinking.

Sorry for the seriousness of this post but the Henry and Alves stories really got under my skin.

Any thoughts? You know what to do.

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