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Let’s Talk About the Racism We Saw Today in Tottenham

Racism shouldn’t be the story.

Spurs Ball by Mike’s Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Let’s Talk About the Racism We Saw Today in Tottenham


Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Chelsea traveled to North London today to play Spurs, in a match that pitted Jose Mourinho against his old team. That should have been the story. Chelsea absolutely dominated the match. That should have been the story. Willian played out of his mind and scored two first-half goals. That should have been the story. Son Heung-min was sent off in the 62nd minute for kicking at Antonio Rüdiger. That should have been the story.

Instead, the story is racism. Once again, there was a disgusting display of racism in a Premier League match. Fans were making monkey gestures, chants, or something similar toward Rüdiger after Son was sent off. I cannot stress this enough. This is absolutely disgusting.

Tottenham has posted the following statement on their website.

“We are now conducting a thorough investigation which will include liaising with Chelsea and their players for their observations. Any form of racism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadium. We take any such allegations extremely seriously and shall take the strongest possible action against any individual found to be behaving in such a way, including stadium bans.”

I’m angry.

We live in a socio-political climate in which incidents like this seem to be on the rise, which is the exact opposite of what should be happening in society. I don’t care what team you support or which players you like or hate. You have no right to bring race into the equation. The color of one’s skin has no bearing on your talents or your abilities to do anything. Period.

César Azpilicueta had the abuse brought to his attention by Rüdiger. He then immediately brought it to the attention of referee Anthony Taylor. Taylor then spoke to his fourth official, Andre Mariner, who spoke to stadium officials. Over the course of the rest of the match, stadium announcements were made three times chastising the abuse and stating that racism has no place in football.

As far as I’m aware, this is the first time a stadium announcement has been made in the Premier League. This is a big step forward from how it has been dealt with in the past. But that simply shows that not enough is being done. There were reports a couple weeks ago during the Manchester Derby. England players faced it when the national team played in Bulgaria.

After the match, NBC Sports commentator Robbie Earle spoke about the incident. He talked about how Azpilicueta and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard should have taken their team off the pitch. I wasn’t sure what I thought about this initially, but I think it’s the right idea. We have not seen enough done to make a statement across the world.

Stop the match. Work tirelessly to determine who the fans are who committed the abuse. It’s the 21st century. There are tons of cameras in the stadium. You can find them. Arrest those fans and ban them for life. Both teams need to work together, make statements, and show this behavior will not be tolerated. In the past, FIFA has forced teams to play with none of their fans in attendance for a variety of incidents. If you can’t be a decent human being, you shouldn’t be allowed in the stadium.

Take a stand

The world is watching. The English FA and FIFA need to wake the fuck up and figure out how to take a stand. Do I have the answers? No. Do I know what it feels like to have this type abuse targeted at me? Not even remotely. I’m fully aware of my privilege. That’s why it’s important for me to speak out against it. To stand in solidarity with the players who face this abuse. Really, to stand with anyone in the world, player or not. Humans can be truly disgusting, and those cowards in Tottenham today proved that point.

It’s not enough to say “I hope they do something about it”. The time to take a stand was yesterday. We need to get with the times and stamp this out. Ban people for life. Play for empty stadiums. Come up with new ideas. This isn’t a “three strikes and you’re out” type of offense. One and done.

Be kind to others. We need to rise above. Racism has no place in society. Period.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s petition the Washington football team. Because their name is racist and unacceptable. Wake up, NFL.

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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