Another stain on Spanish soccer
Yet another incident of racist abuse of soccer players hit the headlines in western Europe and yet again it was based in Spain. Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o was viciously abused by 'supporters' of Real Zaragoza. The Cameroon and African player of the year tried to leave the field in protest but was eventually convinced to continue by his teammates and his manager Frank Rijkaard, who is also black.
It was a terrible no-win situation for Eto'o. He could stay on the pitch and continue to suffer unrestrained abuse by a bunch of savages who call themselves fans of the Beautiful Game. Or he could leave the pitch in protest and reward the animals' behavior.
He stayed on the field and set up Barça's first goal, which must've been a stronger rebuke to the imbeciles than leaving the match.
Racism is not unique to Spanish soccer. Eto'o found support from Ivorian player Marc Zoro, who also tried to storm of the pitch when he was racially abused while playing for the Italian club Messina.
I'm not sure if racism is really more prevelant in western European grounds than elsewhere. After all, western European leagues are the most prestigious in the world so any incidents there get more media attention. And being the top leagues, they also attract the top players from Africa and elsewhere outside of Europe.
What's clear, however, is the complete lack of will of European soccer authorities to deal with racist abuse inside the stadia. Authorities have all but stamped out racist chants that were once prevalent in the English game. But they succeeded at this in part because they were willing to do what it took to get rid of this garbage.
By contrast, Zaragoza have been fined at least twice in the last year by the Spanish soccer federation for the racist behavior of their fans.
The penalty each time: an underwhelming $700.
If teams were forced to play home games at neutral sites or had points deducted, I bet that would make clubs take racism a little bit more seriously. The derisory $700 taps on the wrist clearly aren't working.