Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Of race and racism

FIFA has recently outlined big penalties to be imposed on teams whose fans engage in racial abuse. About time too considering some of the stuff that has been happening in the Italian and Spanish leagues in recent years in which UEFA have punished with fines that amount to being hit with a leaf of wet lettuce.

That little bit of football (old) news leads to my introduction to a story out of Sydney concerning cricket and the upcoming Ashes (only about 15 months away).

I quote an AAP report in the SMH:

Australian fans could be kicked out of cricket grounds at this year's Ashes series for calling an English player a "Pommy bastard".

That is the word from Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland as he attempts to clamp down on racial abuse after South African players were subjected to racist taunts from the crowd last summer.

"I would have thought so, yeah, I would have thought if it is regarded as a racist comment then yes," Sutherland told AAP.

I never considered "Pommy bastard" as racist. Abusive when shouted at full bore to a fielder on the ropes, but in almost every other case said in the spirit of the fierce competition that is the entire relationship between England and Australia.

There is no way that the word "bastard" is racially offensive (you'll more often hear it as a term of endearment in Australia) so the racist word must be "pommy". Now in Australia the term "pommy" refers to any Englishman, in the same way that the Yanks call them "limeys".

Then there is the arguement that the English are in fact a different race. I've always considered them as being, shall we say, "different", but if I had to put myself into a racial catagory I'd say probably that I'm "English".

All too weird for me, but I'd be interested in what some of our English readers think. Add a comment, you can also leave the comment "anonymous" if you are shy.

EDIT: Just found this piece of history from the SMH.

During the controversial Bodyline series of 1932-33, the English captain Douglas Jardine was said to have visited the Australian dressing room to complain bitterly to his counterpart Bill Woodfull that an Australian player had called him a bastard.

Woodfull turned to his team and said: "Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?"


  1. Now THIS is a very BIG subject and I applaud Mr Woodfull all these years ago on his `sense of humour` on this subject. Baiting of individuals of countries within the British Empire (ooooops ... or should I say.... British Commonwealth !!) is considered as `normal` and never to be taken seriously. However, when we go into the subject of `colour` then that is a completely different ball game. Even now in 2006 we have problems in the footie world and it is sickening to hear morons chanting anti-black insults towards players at footie matches. I thought we would have learned by now that `colour` prejudice in sport has now been put to bed !! Mmmmmm... I wonder sometimes ?!

    Going back in time .... into the 1970s.... I remember when the 1st black player came to Scotland. I can't remember his name, but he was English and he came from Aston Villa to Glasgow Rangers. In his first match for Rangers, he was taking a corner kick and the opposing fans threw bananas towards him and were jumping up and down like monkeys. Maybe that sounds funny, but can you imagine how the player felt ? This irresponsible behaviour is continuing today and it something which I find very difficult to understand. Just look at the team sheets of the top 10 clubs in Europe and count the number of black guys !!!
    Before I close on this subject, I have one other observation. We all know what the majority of the white population of America think about their black `brothers`, but, when it comes to baseball, American football and the Olympics then that is another matter !!! I think we can call it the `Jeykll and Hyde` syndrome !!!
    Oh yes, and before you accuse me of being hypocrypital, yes, I know, we have a problem about racism in Scotland and Ireland too of the religious nature.... but that is another story !!!
    All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

  2. Jim,
    I hope my post didn't come across as trivialising the issue of racism in football, or any other sport for that matter.

    My main point was that if we do extend the issue to calling an English a "pom" than we have demeaned the real racist problems that do exist.

    How many English people have really felt offended by being called a "limey" by a "yank"? I doubt it is very many.

    Racism is wrong, full stop. But extending the defination of racism to terms such as "pommy" seems to me like the real trivialisation of a very serious matter.

    By the way Jim, you have been reading too many Turkish papers recently, it isn't the British Commonwealth anymore, simply the Commowealth (all be it one with your head of state at the top).

    Are there any English people out there who consider "pom" a racist term? Either way, please comment

  3. Yeah so....... OK......... I screwed up. Not the British Commonwealth. Let's just keep it the way it was......... The British Empire and let's include the Disunited States of America in our Empire !!!! Comments ???