During a training session with the Spanish national team in 2004, the Spanish national coach Luis Aragonés was recorded by a Spanish TV crew referring to French soccerplayer Thierry Henry as a “black piece of s***” to José Antonio Reyes, Henry’s Arsenal teammate.
That experience, however, is not his alone. In fact, West Ham United players Clyde Best and Ade Coker were subjected to monkey chants when they were playing soccer during the 1960s, 40 years earlier. The chants have continued, and players, such as Jozy Altidore and Danny Alves, have inherited this treatment.
Many believe that thirst for justice will go unquenched and racism will persist.
Racism has given way to a spout of homophobia: Mexico’s fans harmonized a chant, singing “puto” during two recent matches when Mexico was pitted against Cameroon and Brazil.
HBO’s “Real Sports,” hosted by Bryant Gumbel, aired an episode in April, entitled “Soccer Racism.” The episode reported on the frequent displays of racism in European football, which have gone to show the “ugly side of a beautiful game.” Several black soccer players spoke about it.
Sometimes slang for “fag” or “man whore” or “coward,” the word being used during Mexican soccer matches only dates back to 2003, which discredits the usage as a tradition. FIFA, which isn’t a fan of inflammatory remarks, has launched an investigation to examine Mexican fans’ use of “puto.”
Giovanni Marti from FIFA’s Media Department encourages individuals and groups to submit any evidence in their possession with regard to discriminatory behavior for the analysis and consideration of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.
While it’s too early to know how FIFA plans to handle Mexico’s fans, if history is any indicator, little may be done. Though, if they were looking to make an example of a team, it’d more likely be Mexico than a European team. But, why punish Mexico now and not 10 years ago when the word first came into rotation?
And with 2018’s World Cup taking place in Russia, a country that known for its anti-black sentiment, many wonder if banana tossing and monkey cries will persist.