It’s fairly seldom, as a home nations football fan, that one is afforded the opportunity to feel proud. Watching our under-performing sides meekly limp out of one major competition after another certainly has left us little reason to.
However, there is something for British football fans to feel proud about: their collective reaction to the recent race relations fallout has been exemplary by soccer’s standards.
Hearing those first sweet chants of “Luis Suarez, we know what you are,” wafting gloriously from the terraces was a real indication of the change in football culture that’s taken place over the last two decades.
OK, I’ll concede, it may have manifested itself in a typically belligerent fashion, but who’d have ever thought that inferring someone is a racist would be an insult sung in football stands?
Across the football phone-ins, message boards and on social media in recent weeks there has been a broad consensus of condemnation regarding the John Terry saga and Serbia debacle.
And while there have certainly been differing opinions about the merits of various cases, what’s remained constant is the implicit understanding that racism’s abhorrence is self-evident and has no place in our society, let alone football.
What’s really stood out is the marked difference between the gravity the issue is given in the UK and, conversely, how ready the game’s governing bodies are to brush it under the carpet.
Whether it’s FIFA boss Sepp Blatter saying racism should be sorted out with a handshake or the pitiful fines doled out to national associations for racist incidents, it appears, as seems to be customary with sports’ governing bodies, they aren’t there to govern.
As FIFA has shown us time and again, many of sport’s larger governing bodies have become utterly preoccupied with making money for their sport.
It’s in their financial interests not to care about racism, because if they admit it could be a problem, well that’s sure to scare off sponsors. And nobody wants to scare the sponsors.
Is FIFA’s action on racial abuse good enough? firstname.lastname@example.org
Frankel: One of the Greatest Ever
Frankel disappeared from the racetrack and into the record books last week with a typically unflustered victory in the Champion Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Is he the greatest racehorse of all time? For this racing fan, Sea The Stars has it by a nose, but that’s purely subjective. Frankel’s blistering pace, raw power and imperious stride will live long in the memory of everyone who saw him in full flight.
What Frankel’s stardom does for racing is show the outside world that it isn’t all about the betting. Few real punters will bother betting on a horse that’s 14/2 on, but absolutely every racing fan was gathered round a telly to watch the race unfurl.
Frankel is one of those few horses to have transcended the sport, along with Down Under’s current superstar sprinter Black Caviar and Seabiscuit in the US.
Racing has had a tough time of it of late, and deserves the fillip of Frankel’s undoubtable greatness.