My love for football goes as far back as my childhood itself. All through my in experience, I never saw a footballer who has gone to the referee and admitted their wrong for a wrong call against the opposing team. Yet the game is referred to by many, especially FIFA Officials as the “the beautiful game of football.” Whether we like it or not, horrible things happen on the playing pitch. Only the players and the referees in some cases do explain these ugly acts once they come under probe. Other than that those issues are generally resolved by a “hand shake”. Few days ago the football community reacted as if though FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s statement was the most dangerous thing that would have brought “the beautiful game of football” into disrepute had he not apologized. Some went as far as requesting for the FIFA Boss’ resignation.
Candidly speaking, and sharing the naivety of Blatter as many people described the statement, I strongly belief that the issue of “racist” reactions in football is equivalent to one of those many emotional outbursts that players experienced during crucial games. Racism as we all knows it to be is more than just chanting, screaming or whistling by any group of football fans in a packed stadium. In my thinking if football authorities decided to play a particular game in a stadium not accessible to the fans based on racial reasons, it will be an endorsement of racism itself. I say this because the game starts with a handshake by the teams which officially dismiss the presence of any racist behavior among the players. Surely, no player with racial construct will want to shake hands under that circumstance.
We are all witnesses to the John Terry-Wayne Bridge story in the English Premier League. For example, during the handshake ceremony this is how BBC described the action of the two men; “Bridge finally reaches Terry, who offers his hand. With the sort of exquisite timing not seen from a Manchester-based comic since the death of Bernard Manning, Bridge stops for a nanosecond, wonders whether to take the proffered mitt, looks Terry up and down dismissively, and decides not to bother, sauntering off and getting on with life. Not for the last time in the day, Terry fails to react, his paw swinging sadly in the breeze.”
Though John Terry did not succeed as in the case of other players, all of us know that most of these outbursts are settled by “handshakes”, a yellow, or a red card given the direction the axe falls on. In other cases, the victims nursed their wounds while the perpetrator go home laughing. France for example, went to the 2010 World Cup on a disputed hand ball which resulted to the goal that qualified France. France also attributed their lost in 2006 World Cup final to the sending off of Zinedine Zidane in the 110th minute of the game after head butting Marco Materazzi. According to one of the French players at the time, William Gallas, "We deserved to win but that is life. I think we played very well and better than Italy but sometimes football is very strange.”
It is the “strangeness” of the things that happened in football that make me to now share in the naivety of Sepp Blatter. Is it not true that some these “strange things” in football are overcome by a simple handshake?