Dutch suffer Poland’s racists in silence
RACISM is back. After John Terry, Luis Suarez and Sepp Blatter’s belief that anything said on the pitch should end with post-match handshake, comes news that Holland players have been racially abused by a Polish football fans at a training session in Wisla Cracow’s Stadion Miejski stadium.
Holland captain Mark van Bommel has reported hearing monkey chants. The Times says of a crowd of 25,000 watching the Dutch train, around 400 offered up abuse. The Mail says the figure is 500. Van Bommel is upset enough to say that if racism is repeated during the match he will ask the referee if he can take the team from the field of play.
Says Van Bommel:
“It is a real disgrace, especially after getting back from Auschwitz, that you are confronted with this. We will take it up with Uefa. If it happens at matches we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field.”
It’s remarkable that any player returning from the horror of the Nazi death camp in the town of Oswiecim can find the vigour to play football.
Bert van Marwijk, the Holland coach, added:
“At least now we know what we can encounter over here.”
And we know what to expect. Things have changed. Footballers are more likely to report matters to the authorities or the police.
Is that progress?
In 1996, it was alleged that Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel had called Arsenal’s black striker Ian Wright a “black bastard”. Did Wright tell the police? No. He said: “I am not in the habit of getting my fellow professionals into trouble.” Schmeichel is held in high esteem, graded by many as the Premier League best ever goalkeeper. What had his alleged comment been picked up by the pitch-side microphone or been reported by Wright?
The talks now is of no excuse and zero tolernace. Use racist language and you’re off, literally – Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, wants any player caught using racist language sacked by their club. If the club fails to act, then he says it “could be held responsible for condoning [racism]”.
“It just highlights the point in the standard players’ contract. It would say that racist abuse, if found guilty, will be classed as gross misconduct and a reason to terminate a contract. I feel it’s important to highlight it, bearing in mind what has happened, and not mess about with it and not afford for anybody to be ambiguous about what the consequences are.“
Everyone wants to show off their anti-racist credentials. But do we believe that censoring speech is the way to end racism?
Back to the Dutch, who will not be making a formal complaint to Uefa.
Dutch journalist Marcel Van Der Kraan, tells BBC Radio 5 live:
“The Dutch had an open training session which they always do at one of the big stadiums to make the public feel welcome. As the Dutch players did their warm-up, during the first lap of the pitch they could hear monkey noises from one end of the crowd. When the players heard this they said they would do another lap and if they heard monkey noises again they would stop. The Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk moved all the cones and started training on the pitch as far away from these people as possible. It was considerably more than two or three people. The Dutch media could hear it as well.”
The BBC adds:
The Dutch FA said while some players said they heard racist abuse, the chanting was mixed with Polish fans making political statements. The matter is now considered closed, the Dutch FA told BBC Sport.
Only, it isn’t…