It comes to no surprise how much we Americans love this game and love our players who are making themselves better across the Atlantic, south of the border, or in South America. We try to follow their process through the internet and try to discuss the positives or the negatives of their performance.
But when an unfortunate situation comes up, you would assume it’s a nasty injury that could sideline them for a couple of months. Sadly that’s not the case when it came to Jozy Altidore in a KNVB Dutch Cup match on the road for his AZ Ailkmaar side against FC Den Bosch.
As we all know UEFA & FIFA are in a fight against supporters of certain clubs for a culture of open racism against players who are not of their supporters’ “preferred” skin color. We have seen banana’s thrown on the pitch or the vocal reaction of monkey chants from the stands. And sadly it found Altidore this time.
Even though referee Reinold Wiedemeijer decided to stop the match, a level headed Altidore and his side wanted to continue and so it did. AZ won the Quarterfinal Cup tie by a final of five goals to nil, and on that night Altidore was shown to be the better man.
A fantastic gesture was made by Den Bosch apologizing to Altidore and giving a promise that this will never happen again. They said they will find those responsible for their actions will be properly punished. But we can’t forget about what happened to Kevin “Prince” Boatang of AC Milan and how he reacted to the same treatment he received in a friendly against a lower tiered Italian club.
In my opinion both men were right on how they handled it. Maybe this is the first time we are hearing about Altidore being racially abused, but for Boateng I would have to say he has heard these chants for far too long. Maybe FIFA President Sepp Blatter doesn’t want players to march off the pitch in anger, but let’s be honest: when will FIFA truly step in and make those supporters pay for their actions?
Watching on Youtube the great Roberto Carlos who finished his playing career in Russia also was abused in a league match when supporters threw bananas on the field. The honorable Brazilian cried walking off the pitch with his shin guards in his hands. A World Cup Champion being racially abused for the color of his skin was disgusting and utterly horrendous.
But sadly the problem is assessing proper punishment to those supporters or those groups who intentionally make these stupid chants and acts, to disgrace this game we love so much. I don’t doubt that there are still racists living here in the USA, but so far we haven’t seen nor heard them in sporting venues. I would think they’d have been banned for a long time ago had it happened.
But the only time they have ever come to light was during the 70’s in Major League Baseball as “Hammering” Hank Aaron was about to break Babe Ruth’s Home Run Career Record as a member of the Atlanta Braves. When he hit the record breaker over the left-center field wall, all the citizens of Atlanta and of the United States cheered him for his feat.
It was a good showing by Altidore to rise above the hatred and the stupidity, and also admirable by Den Bosch to respond quickly to the problems at hand. But once again what will FIFA & UEFA do to truly put an end to these racists chants and actions by a bunch of knuckleheads who in my mind were sore losers being down by three goals before the half?