By Orville Higgins
Racism in football, or, more specific, racist chants in football (and I believe there is a difference), again dominated the football landscape. Last week, Manchester City player Yaya Touré claimed he was racially abused in a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow in Russia. I say 'claimed' because, to date, it has not been proven, as UEFA is still investigating the allegations.
Despite the fact that it is not yet proven, CSKA Moscow will have one section of their stadium closed when they play their next Champions League as 'punishment' for Yaya Touré's claim. This, clearly, is a complete breach of natural justice.
Asking CSKA Moscow to play with a section of their stadium closed in their next game is almost as if UEFA is accepting, prima facie, Touré's words, while not prepared to accept the statements of the officials of CSKA Moscow who have claimed repeatedly that no such thing happened.
It seems to me that until UEFA has established that the chants were, in fact, uttered, absolutely no such action should be taken against the club. It appears to me that both UEFA and FIFA are in such a mad scramble to be appearing to 'do something' about racism that they are prepared to act prematurely to appease black tempers and to appear to be fair.
In the first place, I don't even know why racist chants at a stadium should be banned. I have not been popular for saying this; in fact, in some corners I have been pilloried, but I believe people in a stadium should be free to say anything they feel like.
Like every other black man, I hate the fact that racist chants occur in a stadium. It is stupid and petty and downright annoying, but I feel this is one time when the freedom-of-speech tenet ought to be respected. So white people want to chant at blacks in a football stadium. So what?
I believe that white people do it for one reason only - to get under the skins of black players on the opposing side to affect their games. It is very rare that these so-called racists make racist chants against black players on their own team, which makes one wonder where racism stops and gamesmanship begins.
As to the business of monkey chants, which some black players get all hot under the collar about, why is this such a big deal, and why is it banned? Why should a man at a football stadium not be allowed to sound like any animal he feels like? If he wants to hiss like a snake, or bark like a dog, or bray like a donkey, why should that right be taken from him? So what if he makes monkey sounds?
Why are black players allowing themselves to be all discombobulated about this?
When you strip away the emotions, slavery was essentially an economic institution, where the white race forced the black race to work for them for free, so as to enrich the white race. Black slaves were valuable to the white masters only because they were part of the means of production. You can't enslave a man who has the same, or greater, economic base as you.
These black footballers who are all allowing words in a stand to affect them are, for the most part, highly paid professionals, and should have long developed the mental backbone to deal with this nonsense.
Why should I, as a world-renowned black multimillionaire footballer, allow a white man, possibly one half-drunk on too much beer, to say anything in a stand to upset my equilibrium? If you truly know who you are, and if you are happy and content with your state, and status in life, why does it matter if some white spectators want to sound like a monkey?
I would want racist chants to be stopped. I want the day to come when the practice is ceased. However, I don't want legislation to stop it. I want it to be stopped because those who make the racist chants would know that they are wasting their time, because the black players are not affected in any way by it.
That though might be wishful thinking, because there will always be black players who get bothered by it, and once the chanters know that, legislation or not, that is never going to stop.
Orville Higgins is a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS FM. Email feedback to email@example.com.