Racial Bias in U.S. Soccer Culture?

By | January 26th, 2017 | 2 Comments

Is there an implicit racial bias in Major League Soccer and other U.S. leagues?

A piercing SB Nation story this week grappled with the implications of a recent study‘s disturbing findings “that black players are 14 percent more likely to be called for cautions than their non-black counterparts.” The study by Paste magazine also found that “black players are [. . .] more than twice as likely to receive red card ejections.”

In the article, I share my thoughts on this important issue with the SB Nation reporter, Tyler Tynes. I point out that “while finding empirical data is difficult, there’s plenty of soft and hard discrimination to believe that bias can take hold in refereeing. American soccer is not excused.” In fact, officiating bias can be understood as part of a broader pattern of racism in soccer, in the U.S. and internationally, one characterized by the practice of “stacking,” the presence of very few black coaches on the sidelines, and multiple forms of racist fan behavior.

“It can’t be denied,” I say in the piece. “Racism in soccer, in Europe certainly, is very real. And, regrettably, despite all the progress that’s been made in terms of messaging and tolerance in local football culture, it’s still there. And everybody knows it.”

But don’t take my word for it, click here to read the full story.


8 Things I learned from the John Terry decision

By | July 13th, 2012 | 6 Comments

On Friday, Howard Riddle, Senior District Judge in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, found Chelsea captain John Terry not guilty of racially abusing Queen’s Park Rangers Anton Ferdinand. Here are eight things I learned by reading Judge Riddle’s decision:

1. “There is no doubt that John Terry uttered the words ‘fucking black cunt’ at Anton Ferdinand” (p.13).

2. TV footage unequivocally demonstrates that “Terry directed the words ‘black cunt’ in the direction of Anton Ferdinand” (p.3).

3. In a statement to the English FA Terry 5 days after the incident, remembered saying to Ferdinand “I think it was something along the lines of, ‘You black cunt, you’re a fucking knobhead'” (p.10).

4. Lip reading experts are amazing people who do important work, but this doesn’t mean much in the big picture.

5. Terry said what he said in the heat of the game and was angry, physically and mentally tired (pp.13-14). Seriously.

6. Give money to a charity in Africa: it’s a great alibi (as Elliot Ross explains here).

7. That nobody on the pitch claims to have heard Terry calling Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt” at the time and that “there are limitations to lip reading” [p. 14]) was used to obfuscate the undisputed factual evidence of the video footage.

8. The “not guilty” verdict reflects tortuously twisted logic. The decision seems to hinge on the possibility that Terry hurled the insult at Ferdinand only after the latter had “accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a black cunt” (p. 14). “It is therefore possible,” Judge Riddle concludes, “that what he said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him” (p. 15). So let me see if I understand this legal reasoning correctly: it is not racially abusive speech to call a black person a “fucking black cunt” if it’s in response to an accusation of calling you a fucking black cunt. Huh?

As @NutmegRadio eloquently tweeted: “The John Terry verdict now stands as a how-to-guide for how to escape a racially aggravated public order offense in the UK.”

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Eto’o Scores Goal Against Racism

By | October 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, history was made in the Italian serie A: a match was stopped due to fans’ racist chants. It happened at the Sant’Elia stadium in Cagliari (on the island of Sardinia). Just two minutes in, referee Paolo Tagliavento had enough of the monkey chants from the Cagliari ultras directed at Inter striker Samuel Eto’o.

Tagliavento blew his whistle, explained his decision to the two captains, then ordered the fourth official to have this announcement made over the stadium’s public address system: ‘If racist chants persist, the match will be suspended.’ It was repeated twice.

After the announcement no monkey chants poisoned the atmosphere. In a delicious twist to this sad affair, Eto’o went on to score the only goal of the match and celebrated by ‘monkeying’ around!

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Filed under: Players, Video