How Barcelona’s Lionel Messi triggered a race war
IS Lionel Messi racist? No. He isn’t. He plays football with black players. He does not differentiate between black and white opponents when skipping past them to score for Barcelona. He passes to anyone and everyone in his team. He shakes hands with black and white players. On the hand, arguing for the prosecution, is Dutch footballer Royston Drenthe, a former Real Madrid player now on loan at Everton who says Messi called him a “negro”:
“I played many times against Messi and we always had problems with one another. You know what bothers me so much? That tone with which he always says, ‘negro, negro’. I understand that ‘negro’ is commonly used in South America. But we can’t stand it.”
You might suppose this were a trivial matter, one between the two players. But in the cauldron of anti-racism, where the champions of zero-tolerance seek out racism, the single allegation is front-page news in the Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling paper.
“I had a minor clash with Messi. He shook my hand before the game but during it he again said, ‘Hola negro’ to me a few times. I didn’t get a handshake from him afterwards. I don’t expect an invite to his birthday party.”
And that’s it. Messi has not responded directly to the accusation, but a “source” said to be close to the Argentine star has:
“The player himself and those close to him do not understand why these quotes have come to light now, when the Dutchman left Spain two years ago. Messi denies ever having insulted Drenthe as this is not his way and he has never behaved like that. He also calls on Drenthe to prove his accusations — if he has any proof.”
It’s all a joke. The Sun has lit its torch and joined the enlightened masses exposing racism in foreigners and dust. It all smacks of something cultural rather than actual racism, that heinous denial of equal opportunity to people because of their race. The Sun quotes Drenthe:
“The Argentines [Gabriel] Heinze and ]Gonzalo] Higuain used to say that at first during the club’s [Real Madrid] training sessions, but they stopped in the end.”
All this in the right-on Sun, the paper that has never been edited by a black face. It’s owned by News Corp, whose board of directors includes not one black face. How many black faces sit on the BBC’s board of trustees? None. How many black faces are in the Government of Her Majesty’s Cabinet? None. How many black faces are in the Order of The Garter. None. Is the lack of black representation at the top table all down to racism? Dunno. But surely it’s worth a look. But instead we get Lionel Messi allegedly calling a player a “negro” and not shaking his hand.
The Leveson Inquiry into media standards has featured not one black witness. The elite who filter the world’s events for us to consume are represented by not a single black face. The Leveson Inquiry into what is right and proper in the media has been, save for few Asian and Jewish faces, a procession of white people.
But still the press seek out racism in football, looking at the working class game and seeking out moments that can show decent society that the stadia are yet on-message. The moral police have not yet re-educated all of the fans, who remain in the political rhetoric a slack-jawed mass of dolts on the cusp of a race riot. If Messi can be a bigot, then so can any white footballer and white fan, so goes the reasoning. If Messi can say “negro” then before long all white fans will be saying it. Well, that’s the message we get. But the working class and the football fans are the ones more likely to live, sit and play among black people. In singling out the white working class football fans as the moral threat, the elite deflect attention from their own lives.
Football is presented as a world apart, no longer a reflection of society at large but the last place where a mentally negligible racist can hide. Meanwhile, the actual racism that places barriers to people’s advancement remains intact and ignored…
Image 1: FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, from Argentina, left, reacts with his teammate Eric Abidal after scoring against Betis during the Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Image 2: Everton fans show their support for Royston Drenthe in the stands