LONDON — For years, sportsmen and sports teams have been involved in racial flashpoints that have brought condemnation.
For instance, in 1979, at the World Cup final in Mexico City, the West Germany team member Tommy Peters raised his arms in an “E” and shouted the slogan “Yellow Submarine” at Eric Cantona when he scored at the expense of England. Cantona rushed onto the pitch and took the ball from Peters in one of the most heated moments in the tournament.
The 1999 Italian soccer World Cup, which saw Milano’s David Trezeguet shoot against a wall to score during a final against Germany. The clash between Germany’s Wolfgang Schuster and France’s Michel Platini before the tournament was also a public hot-button issue. Platini shoved Schuster into the French side of the frame as Schuster attempted to prevent Platini from celebrating his winning goal.
Last year, the English football “beautiful game” sparked heated debate at the 2014 World Cup when Chelsea’s John Terry raised his arm to deliver a kick to the back of Luis Suarez’s neck. Suarez reacted by grabbing the back of Terry’s neck. The actions of the two athletes ignited large-scale debate in England. The World Cup has since embraced an open and public conversation on racism.
England’s soccer squad are getting involved in the conversation on racism after their players took a knee during a recent World Cup warm-up match.
They have become vocal on social media about their opinion of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
The player reportedly apologized for racially abusing Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the Italy-Uruguay World Cup qualifier match.
That was followed by the soccer tournament in Brazil where Suarez was involved in another controversy. In the semifinals, Suarez was suspended for 10 World Cup matches and fined 50,000 Swiss francs (roughly $54,895) for biting the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini. Suarez said that he thought the shoulder was his arm.
Suarez lost his temper. He lashed out. He was labeled as a repeat offender.
Suarez has performed as well or better for the international cause — registering eight goals so far in the World Cup tournament — but this episode is posing tough questions for soccer’s ruling elite.
John Terry, for instance, was arrested at the beginning of England’s World Cup warm-up against the United States and admitted in court that he had lied about racism that occurred during a Premier League match. He was fined 21,000 pounds (nearly $30,000) and handed a formal suspension by the British government.
That got him kicked out of the English team with effect from the FA Cup semifinal against Manchester City. The FA released a statement that the player is barred from any involvement with the English Soccer team until an investigation is finished. The case is expected to be finished within a couple of weeks.
Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, has faced similar harsh criticism for not sanctioning Suarez. But amid protests and accusation that FIFA is slowing down for politics, those around the soccer games are accused of waiting for FIFA to respond.
Suarez said that he believes there should be “unity” in the world of football. Suarez has withdrawn his invitation to the England team and said that it would be “disrespectful” to England players.
In the wake of the controversy, England’s team manager Roy Hodgson was criticized for saying that he was disappointed at Suarez’s behavior.
“Sometimes players are sometimes using other people, their in-game character when playing, when training as a character when he’s not playing,” Hodgson said. “I’m pretty sure that all players know that that’s probably not the right thing to do at all.”