Racist, idiot, or both?

Last week I made the poor decision to take in the Spartak Moscow – Medvescak Zagreb hockey game. Spartak are a weak side with the Croatians not much better.

That a team from a country with the population of Ireland, and an economy far weaker, compete in the Continent’s Premier Hockey tournament speaks volumes about the long-termism of the Croatian Hockey Fraternity and intelligent government.

While Ireland’s players continue to scrabble for ice time (not least early morning skates on the temporary ice rink by the Blanchardstown Centre), Croatia utilises its diaspora to bring income and interest to its country and offer opportunities and jobs to its youth.

Yet it was a racist incident which enlivened proceedings.

The match in Spartak’s home ice in Sokolniki was rather even, but the Croatians made their chances pay winning 4-1.

It was an unremarkable match between two mediocre teams except for the moments when bananas were thrown at the Colombian-born Swedish winger Edwin Hedberg.

Two bananas were launched at the player, who two years ago served a ban for doping, and it moved the racism conversation from the field to the ice.

It was just the latest this year of utter scumbag-ism displayed by Russian sports “fans”. Torpedo Moscow, for whom I went to bat in the media having met some of their reps, proved just how racist they are on social media.

As this is the Chinese Year of the Monkey, they seemed to go to great lengths to insult other teams, their supporters and players, with clear racist taunts.

Worse, there was no outrage or objection from members with in the fanbase, only laughter and support for the stupidity.

Today, as Championat published the report from the latest outburst of racist behaviour in the forum of sport, the comments section of social media, as always, shine a light into the darker workings of the under-educated half-wits.

The fun boys who feel that picking on a minority from the safety of their keyboard or stands constitute manly behaviour. “No Blacks, no racism (smiley face)”, “Monkeys love bananas, blacks are monkeys, it’s logical”, “Well, blacks now play hockey”, “Not racist to give a monkey a banana.” These are the least offensive.

Yet there are those, especially from Russian rival clubs, who were not buying that racist abuse is fun. “Idiots. they should stick those bananas up their $#%@# and why is a black a monkey? Those two idiots whould be thrown into a zoo and the club fined”, “For Spartak 700,000rbs will be a nice hit to the pocket.”

Let us not think that this is a purely Russian problem. In 2012 Washington Capitals Joel Ward was racially abused by the same type of scumbags after his goal knocked the Boston Bruins out of the play-offs.

If this kind of racist abuse was still taking place 54 years after the first black NHL player took the ice, and in the PC-ruled US of A and hypocritically liberal Canada, is there any hope for poor old racist Russia?

What Val James endured from his debut in 1958 to Joel Ward’s abuse in 2012 tells us is that a racist element in majority white societies is bubbling under the surface at all times.

On Christmas Eve I found myself with my other half in Lanigan’s Bar in Dublin having breakfast. The early morning Sky offering was of the 1995-96 EPL season. Best remembered for Kevin Keegan’s meltdown and the madness of the 4-3 Newcastle loss in Anfield, it was a remarkable season.

Featured were a couple of excellent Pavel Srnicek saves, which meant just a little more five days later when news of his passing was announced, and a hoarding proclaiming the latest Kick Racism out of Football campaign.

Four years later Everton had “the most racist fans in football”, and in 2015 racist fans were a major issue for Chelsea after their fans stupidity in Paris.

Personally I find it uncomfortable going to watch West Ham due to the racist abuse of coloured and foreign (including Irish players) by the Upton Park faithful. English football has come a long, long way from the time when peanut and banana throwing was considered acceptable, yet it is light years away from eradicating racist behaviour, and racist thought.

So a New Year and the same old shite, a little media flare up to bait clickers, sell ads and then some meaningless drivel about how we should all change and improve. Yet intolerance, racism and ignorance continue to bubble under the surface.

Are these scumbags racist? Is it just moronic clowns who feel so disconnected from reality and life that abusing others from their bedroom or stands makes them feel validated?

Russia is not alone in its racism issues, though after the deal cut with the English FA in a French Hotel between Christmas and New Years, the local mob have a lot to get in order before 2017, let alone 2018.

The Author

Alan Moore

Russian based sports journalist, commentator and consultant, working with major clubs including Hajduk Split, Eintracht Frankfurt, Lokomotiv and Spartak Moscow. Current host of Capital Sports 3.0, former international boxer and semi-professional footballer and commentated at the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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