OPINION: So an “Auckland man” who racially abused English fast bowler Jofra Archer has been banned from watching cricket for two years.
That’s one giant leap for New Zealand sport, but one tiny step for mankind.
Racial abuse, homophobia, sexual slurs run through sports like an Australian bushfire, and the dousing down of some Auckland bigmouth is simply a gentle spring shower.
Sports fans, let’s help sports bodies clear our stadia of this virus, which villifies elite athletes, people who like us all have feelings, families and suffer untoward performance stress.
“It’s too hard”, the comments have run. People get wasted and they behave badly, that’s the way it has always been, and always will be, some argue.
It’s hard to prove, it’s hard to enforce. It’s this, it’s that. Excuse, after justification, after excuse.
No, no, and no. New Zealand Cricket have made a start. It’s up to sports fans to help.
Report a Racist. Snitch on a Sexist, even if they’re cheering for the same team you are, or are the same colour, or gender as you.
NZC has now encouraged spectators at all venues to use its text alert system to notify ground security of anti-social behaviour, racist taunts and abuse.
Use that innovation, don’t leave racial abuse to be dealt with only after a targeted player expresses outrage.
It was Archer who called out the abuse from a lone spectator when he was dismissed at Mount Maunganui in November.
In Italy, a 38-year-old Italian man has copped a five-year stadium ban after directing racial abuse at black striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli, born in Italy, had threatened to walk off the pitch after hearing monkey chants from the stands at Verona.
Verona were handed a suspended one-match partial stadium closure. Like nothing, really. Naughty Verona, don’t do that again.
It didn’t stop Lazio fans directing abuse at Balotelli in his first game of 2020.
In England, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford feels racial abuse is getting worse, even as it comes under added scrutiny.
Researchers have found up to a nine-fold increase in online racial abuse of black footballers. It doesn’t matter whether they play well, or poorly – playing at all is enough to stir up the attacks
Oh, but it’s just banter some will say. It’s just witty, witty, banter, when it is no such thing.
Don’t take my words as white lies, here’s what black Watford striker Troy Deeney has said.
“The thing that’s getting to me at the moment,” Deeney said, “is that people say it’s banter, but banter is meant to be a jokey term of endearment”.
“If you’re insulting someone because of the colour of their skin, their beliefs, their sexuality, how is that banter?”
It’s not, though some Kiwis obviously think it is OK.
A column I once wrote about obnoxious crowd behaviour (sexist remarks aimed at the wives and children of Australian cricketers) got the response: “if you don’t like it, why don’t you go back where you came from?”
My first days were spent in Ngaruawahia, must be the “different” surname, I guess.
Kiwis should not feel the Jofra Archer incident was an aberration confined to one “Auckland man”.
Not when a Dunedin mother says a group of children put dog faeces on her daughter’s face, racially abused her and threatened to shoot her with a fake gun.
Not when more than 100 hate crimes have been recorded here in eight years, and Oscar nominee Taika Waititi has called out racism.
So good on you NZC, you’ve made a start.
Let’s help douse this fire.