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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is it coz I is black and a footballing millionaire?

A couple of incidents in the stratospheric heights of football recently serve to illustrate the new paradigm of racism today.

Firstly was bananagate, an incident of shocking racism that wasn't, which took place in London at an international friendly between Scotland and Brazil. Brazil won, thanks to two goals from wunderkind Neymar, who, like many Brazilians, is a tanned lad of multiple ethnic backgrounds.

In short, a banana was thrown onto the pitch near him at one point. Obviously, this was a despicable act of racism on the part of dour, sore-losing, pasty-white Scots. We had Neymar, who while still only a teen is already a millionaire and set to become exceptionally rich this summer when he moves to a top European club, pontificate about how offended he was by this appalling act. We had his teammate, the indisputably white Lucas Leiva, rant even more about how such actions were neanderthal and unacceptable in this modern age 'where we are all equal.'

Never mind the small fact that the banana had come from the end holding the Brazilian fans. The Scots, while protesting their innocence, made all the usual statements about stamping out racism. How could they do otherwise, with the ongoing sectarian problems of Celtic and Rangers?

Now it transpires that, in fact, it was thrown by a German tourist who was sat in the Brazilian end. This teen has been interviewed by the Metropolitan police for, effectively, just littering. The police are happy he had no racist intent and was just being stupid.

Will Neymar and Leiva now apologise for maligning the entire nation of Scotland? Don't hold your breath. Racism doesn't flow in that direction, as we well know.

The second issue was the publication of a report detailing the apparent lack of black managers in football. There were only 2 out of 92 in the whole English league. This, apparently, amounts to racism among the clubs, and the report noted that since fans had no problem with black managers, it was institutionalised within the industry of football at the top level.

Until you look at a couple of statistics, that is. The black population of England is around 2%. So basically, that's spot on the ratio of black managers in soccer. Another interesting statistic is that around a quarter of players are black, some ten or twelve times their prevalence in the general population.

So when the demographically proportionate number of managers are black, it's apparently insufficient and evidence of racism, but when ten times the proportion of players are black, that's not. It's just evidence of superior skills.

No one thought to look at the superior skills argument as it relates to the black managers. Two of the most high profile ones - John Barnes and Paul Ince - have been largely rubbish, in Barnes's case, spectacularly so. Gullit and Hughton have performed much better. The evidence points to black managers being just as likely to be rubbish as white managers.

Incidentally, the report didn't even refer to the astounding dearth of players or managers of Asian sub-continental origin. Perhaps sense prevailed at this point and they realised that those kids all gravitate to cricket instead.

Here is the modern race paradigm. It's still racism even when the proportion of black people in a given environment reflects exactly the population as a whole. Fair isn't fair. More than fair is the new fair. But it isn't racism when the proportion of black people in that environment exceeds tenfold the proportion in the population at large. That's not unfair. That's just greater ability.

And this paradigm cannot ever be queried, because anything and everything will be twisted into an allegation of racism, even when the complainants are multi-millionaires proclaimed globally, and even when the incident is something as daft and innocuous as a German teenager throwing away a banana he didn't want to eat while enjoying a soccer game on a trip abroad.

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