Posts Tagged "racism in sport"

Sport has been a wonderful past-time in Australia for as long as I can remember, and it has been an exhibition of this country’s values and expectations of which people of Australia should obey by, and follow to the letter.

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The innocuous action of performing an Indigenous war dance has sent Australian sports fans and media into a frenzy. Adam Goodes’ celebration on the weekend in the Swans’ victory over Carlton, which should have been applauded, has managed to showcase the worst of Australian society.

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If you go to the front page of the FIFA website, world football’s governing body, you’ll see a link called social responsibility.

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Indigenous round seems to bring out the worst in us. It’s meant to be a celebration and give us a warm fuzzy feeling that we’ve come a long way and embraced reconciliation.

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I know your kind well enough. You’re the one sitting there shaking your head because your afternoon has been interrupted by another parcel of reactionary, pinko print designed to extract an apology from the guiltless.

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AFL club Essendon have terminated the membership of a fan who racially vilified Sydney’s dual Brownlow medallist and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes during Friday night’s game at Etihad Stadium.

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Levante midfielder Pape Diop says he was the subject of monkey chanting by Atletico Madrid fans as his side inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on Spanish league leaders.

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Thankfully racism in sport is a subject that rarely generates headlines. But Dani Alves from Barcelona and the Los Angeles Clippers have won praise from all over the world for making a stand against it.

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The answer to this is, of course, no. Assigning human-defined qualities such as ‘rights’, ‘freedom’ and ‘racism’ to a non-human entity like the AFL is usually pretty tenuous and in this case to label it racist is a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

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Last weekend’s AFL Indigenous Round was especially notable for the build up. It was promoted everywhere as an honour and recognition of the Indigenous people of this land. You really couldn’t miss it. Even in NRL-centric NSW.

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Another marvellous round of footy (unless you follow North, who in coach, Brad Scott’s words lost the un-loseable, or Melbourne, who were barely competitive) was marred with the off-field controversy of the racial slur against Adam Goodes who had produced his best form of the season in the Swans’ smashing of Collingwood.

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In sports such as football, rugby, cricket, athletics, baseball and basketball, non-white (especially black but also, increasingly, Asian) players are prominent throughout, from grassroots to the very highest levels.

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Racism has been the dark underbelly of football for decades. We’ve come a long way since the 1980s, where black players were mercilessly hounded by opposing fans, but despite the efforts to promote anti-racism education campaigns, racism still routinely rears it ugly head.

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While sport has the power to unify people from various ethnic backgrounds, it also offers a platform to segregate people on the basis of skin color, looks and certain characteristics.

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The AFL for many years now have been the leaders in setting the example for breaking down racial barriers and educating players and the public on acceptance of diversity.

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The AFL should be applauded for its swift handling of the case that saw Western Bulldogs player Justin Sherman sent to the VFL for four weeks after racially vilifying a Gold Coast Suns opponent on the weekend.

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What on earth is going on? Are we stuck in a time warp? I can’t believe that in 2011, before the season has reached it’s halfway point, the three premier football competitions in the country have had a collective four incidents where players have been racially vilified.

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AFL club North Melbourne’s Sudanese recruit Majak Daw is believed to have been racially abused while playing for VFL feeder team Werribee on Saturday.

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Queensland centre Justin Hodges says Paul Gallen should face tougher punishment than a $10,000 fine for racial vilification and questioned whether he should be allowed to play next Wednesday’s State of Origin opener.

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