Racism in Football seems to be a virus as potent as Covid-19 for humankind – one that just doesn’t appear to go away. Even though organizations like UEFA or FIFA as well as major leagues like the Premier League try their best to promote Anti-Racism messages, some fans refuse to accept that.
Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has been at the center of a raging racism debate since being a victim of shocking racial abuse from Juventus supporters in his side’s 1-1 draw against the Bianconeri in a Coppa Italia clash earlier this month.
Lukaku was actually sent off (through a second yellow card) for his celebration after scoring the equalizer. All the Belgian star did was putting one finger on his lips and do a salute with his right arm. The referee – Davide Massa – saw it to be a trigger for potential fan violence and sent him off with a second yellow card.
The Belgian striker was fuming with that and responded in the best way possible after scoring for Inter in their 2-0 win over Benfica in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. After scoring another penalty, he did that exact same penalty – but the referee in that instance did not book him.
Soon after the game, a debate raged on CBS Sports on the topic of Lukaku being sent off in that Coppa Italia clash, where pundits Thierry Henry and Micah Richards gave their opinions.
What did Thierry Henry say about Lukaku’s racism issues?
Henry, of course, has close relations with Lukaku – having worked with him during his time as an assistant coach for the Belgian national team. The Arsenal legend made a passionate rant on the ridiculous decision to send Lukaku off for trying to stand against racism in Italian football.
He told CBS Sports:
It (racism) is everywhere. It always has been and it looks like it always will be. I go back to common sense. With what the guy (Lukaku) has been hearing. He shushes the crowd and gets a yellow? Really? Have a bit of empathy.
If you see a guy is getting abused and he just stands there in a stoic manner. Yes he was cocky and arrogant, but he did it tonight (against Benfica) and did he get a yellow? It is the same celebration. I would have done worse than him if I was getting abuse on the field. The Italian federation keeps the yellow and we are talking about common sense?
I have had enough of looking at the ‘No to Racism’ logos on our shirts. I have had enough of the lousy pictures before the game. Can we please do something about this?
Micah Richards also voiced his anger at the situation, adding:
He is celebrating a goal like he does every single week. The referee (Massa) could have dealt with that situation better. He heard what was being said from the crowd and he still decided to send him off. I don’t understand and then for the Italian FA to uphold the yellow card, it is almost like they are condoning the situation.
I am sick and tired of always having to talk about this but until real change is implemented, we are going to be talking about this over and over again and it is tiring.
We come to play football and enjoy ourselves but we are having to deal with this constantly.
This heated, yet surprisingly logical debate on the matter of racism in Italian football was also handled admirably well by host Kate Abdo, who ensured that it was kept balanced and everyone – including a female referee brought on via satellite – was able to voice their opinions.
Fans impressed with CBS Sports’ debate on racism
This lengthy debate on how to tackle racism with very logical answers has raised the respect levels for CBS Sports among a lot of football fans. Being a Champions League show, they didn’t really have to address something that happened in Italy – but the fact that they gave their pundits the platform to voice their anger has pleased many fans.
A lot have pointed out the parallels between how CBS Sports handles such issues as compared to UK channels like Sky Sports or BT Sport. The UK channels often showcase their love for ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign but didn’t even take any time to delve into the Lukaku racism issue.
This is even though the Belgian forward spent many years in the Premier League and is still technically a Chelsea player, only on loan at Inter.
Sky and BT Sport have attracted a lot of criticism for not allowing such debates on their platforms, possibly because of political compulsions – because a few years ago a racism debate was shut down by host David Jones – who claimed Sky did not agree with the opinions of their pundits on that certain topic.
In the current day and age, where many fans are influenced by what they see on such TV shows, it’s almost the duty of such major channels to allow pundits to give their honest opinions on matters like racism to teach everyone why it is a disgusting pest in society. If platforms like Sky or BT Sport refuse to do that, they risk being left behind in the ‘old age’ of football TV.
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