FIFA’s Weak Attempts to Fight Racism Are on Display at the World Cup in Russia
The group Fare Network (Football Against Racism in Europe) is an organization that tracks racism and homophobia in the soccer world. For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they set up a series of “diversity houses” for the LGBTQ community and people of color. Now in St. Petersburg, they have been evicted from the building they were leasing for these safe spaces with other tenants also reportedly under instruction not to offer subleases, leaving only the brutal symbolism of a diversity house shuttered. Accusing local authorities, Fare’s director Piara Powar told the AP, “It seems to be clear that the project in St. Petersburg has been subject to a political attack of the kind that shows how debates about human rights are curtailed by powerful conservative political forces in Russia.”
The need for Fare and similar organizations is pressing for the 2018 World Cup. Racist incidents in Russian soccer by players, fans, and hooligan clubs in recent years have been routinized, and discrimination is a regular reality for black players. During a UEFA Youth League match against the Russian top-tier club Spartak Moscow last December, Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster was abused by a Russian opponent with a combination of racial and homophobic epithets. The incident, a touchstone illustration of soccer’s contemporary racism, came after a match in September in Moscow where another young black Liverpool player was subjected to racist monkey chants by Spartak’s fans. A few months after the December game, Paul Pogba and other black players on the French national team would be subjected to similar monkey chants during a friendly against Russia in St. Petersburg. Black soccer players in the country have complained of racism in “almost every game,” and Fare co-authored a report which found 80 racist and far-right incidents in Russian soccer in the 2017–18 season.
For years, anti-black racism has blighted the soccer culture in Russia. It’s increasingly obvious is that FIFA, the international body that ostensibly regulates the game, is not taking these claims seriously as they should.
A catalogue of recent responses from FIFA and the associations under its auspices suggests a great deal of window dressing with little in the display case. Brewster’s complaint following the match was dismissed for a lack of evidence. For an assortment of racist incidents, Spartak and Zenit St. Petersburg, another of Russia’s top teams whose supporters had previously released a manifesto calling for an all-white, all-heterosexual team, were fined a pocket-change $1,600 and a partial stadium closure for one game. Racist chants against the French team saw the national Russian Football Union fined $22,000, just slightly above the amount England was fined when one of their age-group players used an energy drink that wasn’t an official sponsor.
After calling the fines “laughable” and saying that he had “no faith” in the regulatory system, England defender Danny Rose revealed he wouldn’t be inviting his family to the competition because of fear of racism. “The fines are nothing more than a slap on the wrist with no actions behind them,” Troy Townsend, the education manager of the London-based anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out, told us. “If you are going to fine federations and fans, there needs to be more accountability. Educating the people who continue with this form of abuse, is a better way than just banning them—closing sections of stadiums only penalizes the innocent as well…there needs to be a better thought process put in place.”
All of this would require a deeper, long-term investment in reimagining the game, but here FIFA has already—to be kind—scored an own-goal. In 2016, FIFA disbanded its anti-racism task force on the grounds that their mission was “complete.” One task force member, Osasu Obayiuwana, called it a “grave mistake,” writing in a column, “How could we have fulfilled our ‘temporary mission,’ when FIFA has failed to take any strong, direct action to change the attitude of several Football Associations and Federations towards racism?… And not allowing it to have taken on the task of dealing with Russia, ahead of the World Cup, was also a faux pas.”
One of the measures FIFA officials have rolled out specifically for the World Cup is a “three-step” process for stopping discrimination during matches, a sliding scale of enforcement by the referee that increases from warnings to temporary suspension and abandonment of play. It’s been tested during some previous internationals, but is intended only as a last resort—there haven’t really been any notable matches that have seen mid-game intervention since a player-led walk off 2013. “The three-step protocol is only as good as the officials who apply it to the letter of the law,” Townsend said. And whether referees will have the nerve and receive the backing from FIFA to walk off the field with so many eyes watching, with money, prestige, and pride at stake is another question.
Government offering grant to combat racism
Alberta’s Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda unveiled details of a new Anti-Racism Community Grant Program on Tuesday. The government says the $2 million in grants will help communities combat racial discrimination, develop acceptance and promote diversity and inclusion.
The program is open to eligible non-profit organizations, First Nations or Métis Settlements and post-secondary institutions.
“One of Alberta’s greatest strengths is its diversity, and our government is committed to making life better for all Albertans by working to combat racism,” Minister Miranda said in a release Tuesday. “Across Alberta, many community organizations are doing great work in taking action against racism and we want to help them do more. With the Anti-Racism Community Grant, non-profit organizations can focus on educating, informing and engaging community members to take action against racism in a way that works for their communities.”
There are two grant streams – one for general community usage, and one that will support anti-racism projects and initiatives affecting Alberta’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Community organizations can apply for up to $25,000 in matching funding, and an additional $5000 in non-matching funding may be available for eligible organizations.
3 Steps to Combat Racism in America
Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention acceptance speech provided an optimistic challenge on race: “I refuse to believe we can’t find common ground here … And that starts with listening, listening to each other, trying as best we can to walk in each other’s shoes. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.” This is needed now more than ever when divisiveness seems at an all-time high.
During my medical training, I had an encounter where my community’s empathy was critical. Celebrating a colleague’s birthday, we had gone out to a standard franchise restaurant in Durham, N.C.. The evening went by, full of laughter and merriment, right until we were about to cut the cake.
I saw them approaching from the corner of my eye, that familiar feeling of dread welling up in my chest, filling my throat, setting my mind racing and palms sweating. I started planning what I should do to minimize the collateral damage that threatened to ensue. Two poorly groomed, slightly swaying (hinting alcohol in their system), young white men approached our table, giddy and sniggering to themselves. They exchanged some loose jokes with one of my colleagues, who joked back with equally wry humor. They made similar jabs with others around the table, and in the end, everyone had some sort of interaction with them; someone even offered them a piece of cake.
I was the only person of color at the table, and I sat with my face down, staring intently at my hands, the option I had determined would deter them from noticing me (“act as invisible as possible”). “What, you don’t want to talk to us because we are white?” one of them loudly snorted, an expectant look on his face. I froze. Here I was with my colleagues, people I respect and that I trusted respect me. A million possible ways that this situation could deteriorate flashed by in my mind’s eye. Should one of my colleagues say something? What if the instigators got physical? My mind raced. “OK, I’ll take the fall for this one. It’s the only way,” I thought. I repeated back his comment in a snide tone: “Yeah, I don’t want to talk to you because you’re white.” Some seemingly never-ending few moments later they walked off.
Introduction to Sociology by William Tile confronts the tainting of race in our society as “a social process that marks them (certain groups) for unequal treatment based on perceived physiological differences.” In contrast, Martin Luther King Jr. persevered for the day when individuals would solely be judged by their character. So how do we shun the societal wave that opposes this type of progress?
1. Have empathy.
After that incident in the restaurant, one of my colleagues made his away around the table to where I sat. He put his arm around me, looked me square in the eye, distraught and said: “I am so sorry.” He went on to say that he had hung out with black friends before but never had seen anything like that happen to them. Those four words meant more to me that evening than they ever have.
2. Stand against rhetoric that reinforces stereotypes.
It is a part of human nature to recognize patterns in order to make functioning expedient in future similar settings or interactions. Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his transformational book Blink. But the risk of these stereotypes turning into prejudice and discrimination is concerning. Therefore, such rhetoric should constantly be placed in check in our own circles. The bar stops with each individual person becoming intolerant, even when it is under the guise of humor.
3. Be an active consumers of media and news.
Media stereotypes are some of the most dangerous and most pervasive representations of minorities in this country. Without much thought, we can easily take in stereotypes and have them reinforced to us through commercials, actors’ roles in movies and types of news stories that are predominantly portrayed. Being conscientious about what we watch and what we listen to, then, is so important. We can also use social media to challenge these media sources.
We as a society have to actively confront this issue. I believe that once the masses, particularly the majority of white Americans, unapologetically stand for the cause, the problem will recede, and the senseless losses of life driven by stereotype-instigated fear that we have seen over the last couple of years will, too. The status quo feels comfortable. And inaction is the easier option. I hope that you will all take the time to walk in someone else’s shoes.
The insidious link between racism and depression
In June, Janet Jackson revealed to Essence magazine that she spent her 30s battling “intense” depression. Reflecting on those “difficult years,” the singer ticked off the forces behind her struggle: low self-esteem, failing to meet “impossibly high” standards and — “of course” — racism.
While depression can be triggered by several biological and environmental factors, the link between racism and depression “is undeniable,” Suzette Speight, a psychology professor at the University of Akron, tells The Post.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are significantly more likely to report major depression than whites. Speight, who’s done extensive research on black mental health, says that study analyses “consistently find a link” between symptoms of depression and “experiences of racism.” Those span everything from race-based micro-aggressions — the subtle snubs people of color routinely face out in the world — to racially charged verbal harassment and physical assault.
trying to calm myself down. I was crying a lot and not functioning. I couldn’t get through things without going down this whole rabbit hole of, ‘You’re a piece of s–t.’”
Looking back, he says, the typical stresses of moving to a new city and establishing a career were compounded by racial anxiety.
Even in his best suit, Hardy and his dreadlocks stood out in Panama’s capital city, where less than 10 percent of the population is black. “I got questioned a lot,” he says. “It kept me constantly on edge — getting those looks, getting stopped by the police to show my passport papers.” That plus trying to do “too many things at once” pushed him over the edge: During a phone call with his parents, he confessed, “If I don’t leave, I’m probably going to kill myself.” Two weeks later, he was back stateside, on a therapist’s couch.
Hardy was lucky: He had a good support network, and landed a helpful counselor right away. But that’s not the norm for many African-Americans struggling with depression.
“There is still a large stigma related to mental-health conditions in the black community,” says Joy Harden Bradford, an Atlanta psychologist and the host of the “Therapy for Black Girls” podcast. She believes many depressed people of color suffer in silence because of that, and research backs her up: Multiple studies have found that African-Americans are less likely than whites to seek treatment for mental-health issues.
From the Inside: What is Racism?
This is a very difficult and vexing question to answer, but perhaps the application of the 3D test will shed some light on this highly emotive and divisive issue.
Of all the important debates South Africans need to have, the most crucial is this: how does an economy generate jobs? What is preventing ours from doing so? How can we fix it?
Almost neck-and-neck with the economy, is: how can we fix our education system?
But there is another issue that absorbs our energy and attention, almost wiping out considered debate on every other topic critical to our future. It is the issue that defined our past: race and racism.
During a month in which the rand lost 18% of its value, youth unemployment rose to 52.4%, and the petrol price hit record highs, South Africa was obsessing about who was accusing whom of being racist.
These episodes included:
- Ashwin Willemse’s allegation of racism against co-commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, during and after a dramatic on-air walk-out following the Lions/Brumbies match on May 16 2018;
- Repeated EFF barbs about South African Indians, culminating in Julius Malema’s generalisation that “South Africans of Indian descent think of indigenous Africans as less human and less capable”.
- Carl Niehaus’s accusation of “downright unbridled racism” against North West University Politics Professor Theo Venter after he said on radio that Jacob Zuma was the worst president South Africa had ever had (which led to the university launching a formal investigation into Venter).
- The Public Protector’s finding that I violated the Constitution by advocating racial hatred (constituting incitement to harm) for tweeting, during an online conversation that “for those claiming the legacy of colonialism is ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc”.
The intensity of these debates dwarfs anything I have seen on the economy or education. So perhaps it is necessary right now, despite all our other challenges, to address the question: “what is racism”?
According to the online dictionary, racism is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
But how does one detect or measure prejudice, discrimination or antagonism? Is it merely in the eye of the beholder, (and if so which beholder)? And, if any of these feelings is detected or experienced, how does one determine whether it is the result of an assumption of racial superiority, or on other grounds?
The easiest way of answering these questions is to avoid them entirely and define racism as a personal experience. “If I perceive it as racist, it is racist. You cannot deny my pain”.
Of course, feelings and perceptions are very important in this discussion, especially given South Africa’s history. They are all too real to the people who experience them. There is also a pressing need to include, in the discussion, things like patronisation, paternalism, micro-aggressions and condescension. We need ways of defining them and dealing with them.
But the potential abuse in subjective definitions of racism overrides their value.
Thomas Sowell, the renowned economist, made the point when he said: “The word ‘racism is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.”
In South Africa today, even quoting Sowell makes you racist, as I learnt in a recent discussion. Although he is black, the validity of his arguments are simply discounted by dismissing his “white mentality”. This is the ultimate ketchup smear.
This neatly illustrates my point that unless we get to some acceptable definition of racism, it never ends. Any black intellectual who does not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy can merely be redefined as white (and therefore automatically racist) in order to shut them out of the debate. And so on. And on.
Looking back, the most profound zeitgeist shift in democratic South Africa has been on the issue of race; during the 1990s, non-racialism was still our lodestar; it was progressive to be a committed non-racialist; Somewhere, during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency (probably kick-started by his “two-nations” speech which sought to undo Mandela’s one-nation legacy), the commitment to non-racialism began to change, culminating in Jacob Zuma’s stated view that white monopoly capital was to blame for all South Africa’s problems.
This coincided with the shift towards critical race theory, which defined “whiteness” as South Africa’s core problem and “decolonisation” as the solution.
One of the loudest current online race debates illustrated the point. A group of UCT students advertised a “Decolonised Winter School” which organisers described as “challenging the notions of colonisation and putting the theories of decolonisation into practice”.
Significantly, the suppers were advertised on the Winter School programme as “POC only” with POC standing for “people of colour”.
We are so far gone that reintroducing apartheid is seen by some students at our best universities as part of “progressive discourse”
T&T: $75,000 defamation award for Facebook lies
A WOMAN who posted a lie on Facebook that a female prison officer had abandoned her children roadside, must pay $75,000 in compensation for defamation.
In addition, Ama Charles will also have to pay the legal costs of prison officer Heidi Joseph.
The judgement was handed down by Justice Margaret Mohammed in the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.
It is the second such judgement this year related to defamation on social media.
In February, Justice Frank Seepersad ordered that Facebook user Janelle Burke compensate an entire family for libelous claims made on Burke’s personal page.
The judge said Burke made ‘reckess and scandalous” claims that the family of engaging in incest, that the father of the family was a rapist who was engaging in sexual activities with his stepson and daughter, and that the seven-year-old was involved in prostitution at school.
The amount of compensation to be paid by Burke is to be assessed by a Master of the Court.
In Wednesday’s judgement, Justice Mohammed said that the claims made by Charles against prison officer Joseph, “ were of a very serious nature since it called into question the fitness of (Joseph) as a parent in a society where the acts of parents with their children are under immense scrutiny both by private citizens and state agencies.”
Joseph gave evidence that on January 24 2016, she dropped her children off at the home of their father and continued on her way to work with the knowledge that the children would be safe in the care of their father.
Joseph said that she then received messages and phone calls from the father who chastised her for leaving the children, and messages from her co-workers and a supervisor at the Women’s Prison, Golden Grove, that a person called ‘Emma’ made several calls and left several messages to the prison requesting that she collect her children.
On the same day, Ama Charles posted on Facebook: “Trying to get on to Heidi Joseph she left her kids in the road at my home and I am unable to contact her. Anyone with information or who can relay the message please assist asap?? Beyond the Tape Ian Alleyne The TV6 News.”
The post was also shared on the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s Facebook page.
“Trying to get on to Heidi Joseph she left her kids in the road at my home and I am unable to contact her. Anyone with information or who can relay the message please assist asap?? Beyond the Tape Ian Alleyne The TV6 News.”
Joseph took Charles to court for posting certain statements on the social media website, Facebook on January 24, 2016.
I wanted audiences to reflect on their privilege. Instead I was accused of racism
I am a performance artist and maker of Maori and European descent. Last week, nine performers and I presented a seven day performance ritual, Where We Stand, at the Victorian College of the Arts. This performance was inspired, shaped and is communally owned by the Indigenous, people of colour (PoC)/Blak people in my life. Hearing stories and reflecting on my own experiences, I felt there was something to be said about the Indigenous/PoC/Blak person’s experience of being in institutionalised and colonised spaces, and in fact, our country as a whole.
For Indigenous/PoC/Blak peoples in Australia, racism, discrimination and marginalisation are inherent parts of one’s experience. The people I love often talk about how they are regularly made to feel less than welcome, less than safe, less than respected and generally less than, in most spaces. We speak about the ongoing violence and discrimination faced by our people. We speak about the trauma of not having access to cultural knowledges and language. We worry for the future of our knowledges in a world where the preservation and practice of our cultures is widely deemed “unnecessary”. We feel the inherited trauma of murdered and abused elders and ancestors. We mourn the stealing and destruction of the land we love.
Making Where We Stand, I wanted to ask audiences to reflect on their position in the colonial and eurocentric nation we live in – ask them to consider how they are complicit in the continuation of a system that marginalises, discriminates and oppresses. I wanted to prioritise the experience of people who are usually not considered in eurocentric spaces.
Opinion: Racism under the guise of tradition
Ohio used to be home to many Native American tribes, most of which were murdered or displaced. But this information is not news to any of the folks at the June 12 meeting at Anderson High School, where the debate over whether to keep the name and logo “Redskins” ended on the affirmative.
I graduated from Anderson High School in 2001. I donned team uniforms and spirit wear bearing the name and visage of a racial stereotype. My friends and I naively painted our faces with war paint and put feathers in our hair before attending football games. I didn’t think twice about it, because I didn’t know anyone who was Native American. I barely knew anyone who wasn’t white. It never dawned on me that we were co-opting a culture for our own purpose while perpetuating racial slurs and stereotypes. I didn’t even realize they were stereotypes – until I moved away and grew up.
Full disclosure: I was not at the meeting on June 12. I am no longer an Anderson resident, nor did I ever intend to send my own children to Anderson High School. The reported behavior of some of the members of the Branding Committee and the audience members is largely why. The Native American community has already expended significant energy and resources informing the public about the harm of using the phrase “redskins,” and Anderson High School leadership continues to ignore it.
I’m embarrassed that adults argue on behalf of the majority at the expense of an intentionally disenfranchised minority. It’s horrific to cite finances as a reason to maintain racist institutions when we got rich and comfortable off the backs of the aforementioned minority. It’s misleading to cherry pick polls supporting your position, and it’s socially irresponsible to default to the impossibility of making everyone happy.
Doing the work of reconciliation is hard. It is expensive. It is uncomfortable. It is bound to generate some social casualties. But, it is also critical and must be championed by the resourced majority. If you actually want to honor the heritage and dignity of Native Americans, defend their lands. Reject Columbus Day. Advocate for programs that prioritize resources for impoverished Native Americans. Don’t continue the legacy of passing stereotypes down to our future generations, your children and the students in your district in the name of tradition.
In the words of Lewis Carroll, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”
We must come together to fight the resurgent racist right
The 15,000-strong violent far-right protest to “free Tommy Robinson” on Saturday 9 June has raised major questions for all those who value our diversity. The racist right are using Robinson to reorganise. Nazi salutes and Islamophobia were at the centre of the mobilisation. This is the first serious attempt since the collapse of the English Defence League (EDL) to develop a racist street movement and give it a political form. It is supported internationally by notorious figures including from the US and the Dutch Islamophobic right.
It is absolutely vital that all who oppose this come together in a united mass movement powerful enough to drive these new developments on the far right back. Donald Donald Trump has played a major role in galvanising the racist right. We will take to the streets for the Together Against Trump demonstration coinciding with his visit on 13 July. And when Robinson’s supporters take to the streets again on 14 July, we will protest against them too. Wherever the far right’s support grows so does racism and violence. Let’s come together to defend our multicultural society from those who spread hatred and division.
Diane Abbott MP Shadow home secretary
John McDonnell MP Shadow chancellor
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union
Dave Prentis General secretary, Unison
Talha Ahmed Treasurer, Muslim Council of Britain
Mohammed Kozbar Chairman, Finsbury Park Mosque
Rabbi Lee Wax
Sabby Dhalu and Weyman Bennett Co-convenors, Stand Up To Racism
Ged Grebby Chief executive, Show Racism the Red Card
Richard Burgon MP Shadow justice secretary
Laura Pidcock MP Shadow minister for labour
Cat Smith MP Shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs
David Lammy MP
Emma Dent Coad MP
Marsha De Cordova MP
Andrew Gwynne MP
Peter Hain Labour, House of Lords
Claude Moraes MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Tim Roache General secretary, GMB
Kevin Courtney NEU, Joint general secretary
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS
Dave Ward General secretary, CWU
Matt Wrack General secretary, FBU
Mick Cash General secretary, RMT
Ian Lawrence General secretary, Napo
Steve Gillan General secretary, POA
Manuel Cortes General secretary, TSSA
Mick Whelan General secretary, Aslef
Kevin Maguire Journalist
Michael Rosen Poet
Roger Huddle and Red Saunders Founders, Rock Against Racism
David Rosenberg Author
Alan Gibbons Author
Dr Siema Iqbal Co-founder of Avow (Advancing Voices of Women against Islamophobia)
Julia Bard National Committee, Jewish Socialists’ Group
Claudia Webbe Labour party NEC and Islington councillor
Margaret Greer National race equality officer, Unison
Harish Patel National equalities officer, Unite the Union
Ian Hodson National president, BFWAU
Tony Kearns Deputy general secretary (postal) CWU
Steve Hedley Deputy general secretary, RMT
Jane Loftus Vice president, CWU
Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah Executive director, UK Black Pride
Shahrar Ali Home affairs spokesperson, Green party
Maz Saleem Anti-racism campaigner/Stand Up To Trump
Kate Hudson General secretary, CND
Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition
Kerry Abel Chair, Abortion Rights
Asad Rehman Executive director, War on Want
Sam Fairbairn People’s Assembly