Players hold up a banner saying “Say No To Racism” before the FIFA World Cup match pitting Uruguay against Ghana. Image via Zimbio.
Soccer was an unstoppable force in the Gulf Middle East, where I grew up. One of my earliest memories is of my dad teaching me the basics of ball control in our gravel back lot in Buraimi, Oman (my dad maintains to this day that the essence of playing good soccer is to understand that the ball is actually metaphorical, making the game the only one that can be played with no equipment whatsoever). These were soon followed by actual games at school, tournaments and watching the dubbed Arabic anime Captain Majid.
When I first came to Vancouver, playing pick-up games of soccer was one of the few ways in which I felt that tiny slice of home. Even now, my game-days are spent at packed Commercial Drive cafes where groups of brown men from all over the world switch between spells of silence and uproar while staring at high definition televisions.
Interacting with large transnational populations wherever I went, I found, as sports writer Matt Hern says in One Game at a Time, that there was rarely a site of greater integration, tolerance, generosity and undermining of racial stereotypes than sports. Continue reading →
When Joel Ward scored the overtime winner for the Capitals to end the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins’ season, a wave of racist tweets surfaced. They ranged from casually offensive to viciously hateful. None were shocking. But they illustrated the latent sentiment that exists in many pockets of the fan base that hockey is a sport to be played and enjoyed by whites.
Being a black hockey fan can be a singular experience. You can feel the racial divide at games. So when Ward lit the lamp last night, yes, personally, it felt good to see a black man score such an important goal for the franchise.
It’s about time that the NHL tackled its race issues head-on. If the league wants to move forward as a brand, they need to recognize that they can do something about racism. When Kobe Bryant yelled a homophobic slur at a referee that was caught on camera, the NBA swiftly and justly fined him and then produced a PSA campaign against usage of the word. FIFA, the global soccer association, has very publicly taken a stance against racism from fans with some of the world’s most popular stars. – From The Washington Post
The only surprise was how long it took CNN to suspend contributor Roland S. Martin after the uproar he instigated during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. What’s not surprising is who hasn’t gotten the same punishment for similar offenses.
Which is not to excuse Martin for any of the poorly thought-out joke he threw out on Twitter during the game about this (NSFWish) underwear ad.
Jay Smooth, over at Google Plus, shared this screen grab of the trending topics after the USA women’s soccer team lost to Japan’s soccer team:
By the time, I saw it, the offending messages of “Japs” and “Pearl Harbor” had been replaced by “Congrats Japan” – but searches for the terms Jay circled bring up angry and frustrated Twitter users responding to the initial tweets.
Readers, did you notice any game related racism, either on or offline?
As the 2010 FIFA World Cup nears its’ end, we begin to look at the undercurrents of the tournament, held for the first time at the African continent, in South Africa, and the continued crossing-over of sports pop culture – spanning over languages, borders, time zones in search of markets and audiences. Take Coca-Cola’s World Cup “anthem,” K’naan’s “Wave Your Flag.”(Not to be confused with FIFA’s jingle, Shakira’s “Waka Waka.”)
There were six different versions of the song released and aired during the event, each featuring K’naan and the same cheering crowds, bright colours, contagious excitement, obligatory celebration of nationalism and of course, all of them celebrate “the” flag. But the flag in each was different: K’naan collaborates with Nancy Ajram to produce the Arabic version, with David Bisbal to produce the Spanish version, with Jacky Cheung and Jane Zhang for the Chinese version, with Féfé for the French version, and, last but not least, teamed up with Skank on a Portuguese version for Brazil.
It gets better! There’s an Alvin & the Chipmunks version, even.
This “official” World Cup version, which seems to have been taken up by everyone, is a compromised, co-opted, Coca-cola-ized version of the original. The original lyrics speak more to struggle against poverty and violence, in pursuit of freedom. Were they too real for the World Cup?
I just wanted to tip our readers in the L.A. area off about the West Coast premiere of After The Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United, which has been garnering praise around the documentary circuit for its’ story about Bnei Sakhnin F.C., a football team based out of the city of Sakhnin, an Israeli town that is home to more than 25,000 Arab Israelis. The team’s roster is comprised of both Arabs and Jews, and though some elements in the film hew close to more traditional “underdog” fare – because Sakhnin is a small club, for example, its’ facilities aren’t as modern as its’ competitors – it does change up the formula in one significant way: After The Cup deals with Sakhnin in the season after it won the Israeli Premier League’s championship, the State Cup. Slight spoiler here: the team soon finds it really is harder to stay on top than to get there.
Unfortunately, I can’t make the premiere – I live too far away – but if any of our readers can catch it this weekend, I’d be interested in getting your take on the film in this thread.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World