This i-Squared event is also a Google+ debate on the Balotelli quote “Football has been too tolerant of racism“.
I’m going to disagree. It’s not racism, it’s culturally engrained “otherism”. The lack of respect engendered by seeing the rest of your world as other. Rival football fans are simply an ideal place to see the underlying issue at work – after all being on opposing sides is the point of it.
As a football fan (or a “supporter” on any side of any debate or argument – more to the point) it is apparently expected that as well as supporting your own case you will rubbish the opposing case by rubbishing the opposition. I regularly get laughed at when, as a supporter of my team, that unless it’s actually witty or relevant I cannot ever condone insulting and abusing the opposing fans, players and staff, or labelled a tone-troll if I point out such behaviour in a more academic debate. In something as trivial as a sport (ie more important than life and death remember), particularly a “man in the street” sport like football, it is pretty well accepted that it’s normal behaviour to rubbish the opposition based on what’s different about them – norf vs sarf London, yid vs gentile, east or west end of the M4, city vs sheep-shagger, south vs north, east or west of the Pennines, Manc vs Scouse, catholic vs protestant, one side or the other of the the tracks or Stanley Park or the Manchester ship canal, whatever.
Good natured banter is one thing, even “offensive” humour if it’s witty and accompanied by self-evident underlying love and respect, but direct personal abuse and attacks on the “others” based on their otherness should be a no no. The colour or race of an opposing player is just another “handle” for the accepted attack, and of course when the teams are from different countries so many more historical, cultural, ethnic, geographical differences to pick-on. Don’t get me started on “gyppos” … and for chrissakes don’t mention the war, any war, you choose.
If this was just a problem with the uncouth, uneducated “man in the street” and just with “race” that would be one thing. But even educated would-be intellectuals seem to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the “attack” side of any argument. It’s critical thinking, it’s scientific, after all – scientistic anyway. Us vs the bankers, the government, the capitalist, the tax man, … the tax avoider. So many current debates – the Lords Spiritual, you name it. Me vs whatever makes you different from my moral high ground. Objective otherness stinks anywhere and everywhere – (except inside empirical science). Who let the dogs out?