Here in 21st century America, racism is derided, and deservedly so. There are so many reasons to hate any given person that choosing the color of their skin reveals you to be of weak mind and character. But in Europe, things are different, just because there’s so much to it than “white.” There, everybody hates every other country’s people, and should said country border yours, it counts triple. Go on, ask the French about the Spanish sometime. Or Germans about the Polish. You’ll see.
Unfortunately, though “white” isn’t just “white” in Europe, “black” is still “black,” and God help a man if he’s of primarily African descent (rather than, say, a third- or fourth-generation countryman who’s black). American Oguchi Onyewu, playing the Belgian club Standard Liege, found that out the hard way this season, enduring taunts of “dirty monkey” during a recent title match. Rather than let the slurs go, however, he’s taking the fight back to his alleged slurcaster, filing a lawsuit in Brussels.
From NBC SPORTS:
Onyewu, who plays for Standard Liege, says Anderlecht’s Jelle Van Damme called him a “dirty monkey” during the Belgian league playoffs. Van Damme has denied the allegations and said he is not a racist.
Onyewu’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont, lodged a complaint with a Brussels court Tuesday.
“He was convinced it was his duty to lodge the complaint,” Dupont said. “It is not a question whether Van Damme is racist. The issue is that these slurs are still used on the pitch, and are being used because they know it hurts.”
I don’t think you’re ready for this, Jelle. Sure, you’ve got a reputation to protect, but clearly, taunting is part of soccer. Just ask Zinedine Zidane.
Thus, unless Onyewu is fabricating every aspect of this suit (he’s got no reason to, as his team won the title), something was said to set Onyewu off, and a public admission of whatever it iis will lead to a great deal of embarrassment. Best to settle out of court and out of the public eye.
As Dupont mentioned, though, this is a larger issue, and it even goes beyond the field of play; heck, Everton soccer star Victor Anichebe got arrested for looking at jewelry for too long just a couple months ago, for crying out loud.
And while you certainly can’t litigate your way to total racial tolerance, suits like this are a good way to put a meaningful, substantial deterrent in place when it comes to racially charged taunting on the pitch. Let’s keep the reprehensible behavior to dives and whining, guys. That’s real soccer, the way it’s meant to be.