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CrimeTalk

An educational resource at the heart of criminological teaching, debate, and research

Editor's Blog

Football, political correctness and the Suarez case

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/16262537.stm

The BBC comment above is very balanced and sensible but what a fuss the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra case has caused and will cause! The case is interesting for us here at CrimeTalk. I wonder though how many of those commenting now on websites everywhere see how damaging it would be to the cause of anti-racism if it reduces that issue to mere difference of interpretation of words used in a cross-cultural situation. Moreover, any man [and woman?] who plays sport at any decent level knows full well that abuse of opponents occurs all the time in the course of the game, and that most of that is pure mischief to unsettle the opponent. Now, we might want to stamp it out and dislike it intensely but is this really the way to go about it?  What ever happened to subtlety in regulating sport, or the use of cautions in dealing with offenders? 

As a lifelong football fan, I despair that the game becomes ruined year on year by some deluded version of 'political correctness'. Soon it will be a non-contact sport with all the players talking to each other like this: 'I say, Luis, after you, please....No, Patrice, after you, sir'. The scoreline will soon be decided on the least number of swear words uttered by each side and the relative authenticity of the players' regional accents, to be decided by a panel of judges from the publishers of Oxford Dictionaries. Match of the Day will focus mainly on the judges and how rude they are, as in Strictly Come Dancing. In fact, FIFA would probably, if paid enough, supplement the World Cup with a dancing competition for the managers to be held simultaneously and it might come down to Ferguson's Glaswegian waltz versus Kenny D's Scottish salsa.

Even as a rabid red of the United kind, I have to say that the Suarez penalty seems way overdone, tough on his team Liverpool, and seems part of the movement over the last 30 years to sanitize the workplace of all humour, all flirting, all web surfing, all sex, all conflicts and all other distractions - which in turn goes hand in hand with an intensification of labour for the same wages, greater exploitation, and a conversion of all forms of public interaction into an anodyne p.r. exercise where bullshit rules and all employees behave like robots or computers. 

Bottom line: this decision is an integral part of the conversion of professional football from being 'the people's game' into a middle-class television spectacle suitable for an imaginary and very unreal middle-class family the world over. The next thing will be to ban showing any game after the 9.00 p.m. watershed, because any decent lip-reader can see players saying 'fuck off' and 'fucking hell' all the time. Don't the FA people ever watch Shameless? FFS.

FWIW, my view is that, despite feeling that Cantona, a United legend, got a rough deal for losing his temper with abusive fans several years ago, Suarez should have got no more than a rap over the knuckles, maybe a one-game ban for being a little OTT, and told to watch his language, and then to give a week's wages to an anti-racist charity. Not even Patrice Evra thinks Suarez is a racist, or so I read, and it is clear from his professional history that he is merely a mischief and that is one reason he is such a good player and one you would want in your team.

In any case I worry about a world where people increasingly seem to want to punish others severely merely for what they have inside their heads. On my reading of history, that is always a key step towards an Inquisition, the worst kinds of totalitarianism and the Orwellian nightmare.......and it's happening now "live", as Martin Tyler, would say on Sky Sports.....

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