Oct 29 2011

Racism rearing it’s ugly ahead again.

Published by at 6:55 pm under Domestic,European and tagged: ,

As is widely known in football blogging circles, the European Football Weekends crew started their recent ‘Oktoberfest’ with a trip to Bratislava, to watch the Slovan v PSG game.  Unfortunately, the guys were standing in the middle of the Slovan Ultras when they experienced an example of the racism which is sadly still present in the game in Slovakia.

I am delighted that James Baxter has written this article, confronting the issue from inside Slovakia:

I was not at the Slovan Bratislava v Paris St Germain Europa League game on October 20th but there appears to be little doubt that the visitors’ Siaka Tiéné was subjected to racist abuse as he made his way from the field following his 80th minute sending-off. What is in even less doubt is that UEFA’s official report of the match made no mention of the incident. Nor did accounts in the Slovak media. Once again, it seems, racism has occurred at a football match in Slovakia and no’one seems too bothered.

Several factors make this all the more difficult to understand. Firstly, there are now a number of black players in the domestic league, including Koro-Kone and Diallo at Trnava, Bello, Ceesay and Mabouka at Žilina and Guédé and Bagayoko at Slovan. I can’t help but ask myself what went through the minds of the latter two when they heard Tiéné being abused. Also, we get all the UEFA-sponsored campaigns and slogans here ; ‘kick racism out of football’, ‘show racism a red card’ and the rest of them. There was another launched last weekend, less than 48 hours after the Slovan match. Isn’t all this just a tiny bit meaningless when real incidents of racism are not even reported, still less confronted?

Several groups of people need to start taking a bit more responsibility. UEFA, naturally, are first among them. It is possible that they will eventually take some action in relation to the Slovan incidents but a fine and a quiet, friendly ‘try not to let it happen again’ is about as much as I would expect. Meanwhile, I struggle to understand the UEFA policy of pretending that incidents didn’t occur until finally passing judgement upon them. When people can get accounts of games from all sorts of sources, is there really any point in maintaining a state of denial?

The Slovak football authorities don’t emerge without blemish either. The last time (though I seriously wonder now if it really was the last time) a racist incident occurred – at Žilina last July, when home fans aimed monkey chants at Bagayoko following a game with Slovan – the SFZ did precisely nothing. Nor, it almost goes without saying, did Žilina, which brings us to the question of the clubs themselves. Too often, Slovak clubs are more likely to try to appease fans who behave unacceptably than take action against them. L´ubomír Krajčík, the Žilina fan who caused the abandonment of last April’s clash with Slovan was in the newspaper yesterday revealing that he now sits higher up in the stand than he did before. He should not be allowed to attend matches at all. As for Slovan, I’d say a concerted effort by their powers-that-be to root out the people who abused Tiéné is about as likely as the team lifting the Europa League trophy next May.

The players could perhaps help a bit more. I don’t know if the Slovan team gave their usual bow to their fans after the PSG game but I’d like to think they didn’t, as this would have been the only realistic way to immediately make clear that they found the racist chanting unacceptable. Guédé and Filip Šebo had been involved in some interesting-sounding anti-racism activities just the week before ; a display of disapproval of abuse where it had actually happened would have been a case of backing up the ideals of that campaign with a brave, principled stance.

The Slovak media are fairly useless where this issue is concerned as well and, like UEFA, failed to report the incidents involving Tiéné. Of course, when half the Slovak media is somehow connected to people who also have interests in Slovan, that is hardly a surprise. But  the press do at least show balance in their neglect of the problem ; the abuse Bagayoko was subjected to in Žilina last year was not reported either. It all makes you wonder if other incidences over the years have been similarly ignored.

When I last wrote about racism in Slovak football, last December, a lot of the emphasis was on the point that a lot of progress has been made over the last 10-15 years. I still believe that is true and there is plenty of evidence to back up such a claim, which I will not go into now.  Taking the latest incident specifically, I would actually be surprised if the perpetrators are among the 2,000 or so Slovan fans who turn up for domestic fixtures. Considering that the PSG game drew a crowd of 7,000+, mathematics alone suggests they may well not be. Also, it is difficult to imagine Guédé and Bagayoko wanting to stay long at a club where monkey noises were a regular feature of the matchday experience and it is certainly my impression that these players are liked and respected by the vast majority of Slovan fans. The same at Žilina where Ceesay in particular is something of a cult figure.

Still, the real point of all this is to say that racism cannot be tackled properly as a phenomenon when individual incidences of it are swept under the carpet. You could perhaps compare the current situation with an alcoholic who has been mostly sober for the last few years but has just had a relapse. It is no use only telling himself that he has made a lot of progress, he has to admit too that he still has some way to go. Racism in Slovak football is not as widespread or reflexive as it once was but we must all want more progress to be made. That is why what happened at the PSG game should have been properly reported and acted upon by those in a position to do so.

James Baxter

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Racism rearing it’s ugly ahead again.”

  1.   George Mon 02 Nov 2011 at 7:57 am

    Sorry James , were you not writing a few weeks ago that the incidents you now describe never happen …or did 10 years ago . What changed in two weeks ?

    The fact is your basic Ultra fan Slovak is an ignorant, booze or drug filed slob . Never traveled other than numbed by alcohol, by coach, or 5 in Skoda and never discussed anything over the breakfast table other than shaggin woman , booze and how they can rob them next door, without being caught.

    We are talking about the lowest of the low, being in put in a herd here and at a footbal match ….what are you expecting when it cost less than 3 euro to watch a game …..cucumber & prawn sandwich eating on the terraces ?

    I also thought you had lived here a while , so do you not yet understand, Slovaks never take personal responsibilty for anything. It is always someone else’s fault .

  2.   James Baxteron 02 Nov 2011 at 8:30 am

    ‘Sorry James , were you not writing a few weeks ago that the incidents you now describe never happen …or did 10 years ago . What changed in two weeks?’

    I don’t think I quite said they ‘never happen’. If I did, I retract that statement. What I thought I said, or meant to say, was that they happen a lot less often than 10 years ago. It’s just over 9 years since the infamous incidents at the Slovak-England game in BA, which you no doubt recall. Would visiting black players be treated to that sort of abuse here today? I wouldn’t make guarantees but I think not. That doesn’t mean I believe racist attitudes have gone away either, I just think they’re more under the surface now.

    What I also said in that discussion (if we’re referring to the same one – it was on the Daily I think) was that anti-racism campaigns are not an awful lot of use when specific incidents of racism are ignored by those in a position to do something, a point I also made in this article.

  3.   George Mon 02 Nov 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Cor , yet again your fence sitting and cherry picking of alternatives you put up each time in an articel is confusing you James .

    The fact, Slovakia is a racist country …there is a entire group of people that hate Hungarians, hate each other and almost the entire white Slovak nation spits venom toward the Roma ….Half the population believe we ( thats you, Dan and me James ) carry dangerous foreign diseases and also contribute to increasing the crime rate.

    The odd black player appearing for Slovan, is not going to change generations of hatred for other races ….Perhaps todays children will start the change, in the more educated parts of the country like Bratislava, but the village people , forget .

    Why do you think the SFA does nothing to correct the Banana throwers….institutional Racism !

  4.   StaryJazvecon 02 Nov 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Slovak hack notices racism at ground shock: Editorial in Sport today saying that the Slovan faithful are on Sebo’s back because he’s lent his name to anti-racism stuff…

  5.   George Mon 03 Nov 2011 at 10:28 am

    So the darling of the faithful, is now a piranha …

    Guys wake up and smell the coffee … knuckle dragging Slovaks and the SNS nationalist are racist .

  6.   James Baxteron 04 Nov 2011 at 7:17 am

    Off-topic but since there’s no thread on last night’s game…. I only got home in time to see the last quarter, followed by replays of the key incidents afterwards. There were only two of the latter but they were probably enough to sum up the difference between the teams. Halenar gets a clear chance and shanks the ball into the crowd, Pastore gets a more difficult one and buries it. What you need to do is somehow con Halenar into thinking he’s playing against against Zilina every time – then he’ll never fail to score. Looked like great play from Bagayoko to set up that chance – he wasn’t too clever against Salzburg but from what I’ve seen of the other games, he really looks at home at this level.

    Also, the 25 mins or so I saw did nothing to dispel the impression that multi-millionaires of PSG are really nothing special.

  7.   britskibelasion 04 Nov 2011 at 10:50 am

    A report should be coming James – my mate Dave was at the game.
    Hopefully be up later today .. shocking miss though – how can they be SO useless at the most crucial moments ..

  8.   Georgeon 04 Nov 2011 at 10:57 am

    I just saw the second half …Halenar side foot at the corner flag, was the laughing highlight chance for Slovan. Odd because I would have bet my house that guy would at least hit the target . Sebo yet gain failed to impress. The guy just cannot take up the right position to set himself up and is always left frustrated . As for the Slovan defense , well PSG had had three or four warning crosses in the previous 15 minutes, just like the one from which Pastore finally scored . In fact , if you watch the replay , Slovan had enough (6-7) defenders in the box, just they were not marking anyone .

    I have to say Slovan, did appear to be minded to try more attacking options, but because of Sebo being so utterly useless and the fact all the Slovan player seemed intent on making sure there were at least 7 defenders getting back their own half, at all times, no extra attacking forward made PSG box , to give them a chance .

    I agree PSG , were not impressive . Mind you APOL Cyprus won 2-1 against Porto and George won yet another few bob from the bookie .

  9.   StaryJazvecon 05 Nov 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Mebbe you could do a tipping column on here, Georgie?

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