Racism in South Africa’s Sporting Stands

The biggest reports of racism in sports come from football stadiums across Europe, but now the same ugly issue has also reared its head in South Africa.

Posted on 10/2/14
By Antoinette Muller | Via Daily Maverick
(Photo by Robert Wallace, Creative Commons License)
(Photo by Robert Wallace, Creative Commons License)

From monkey chants to downright vile abuse, racism is rife when it comes to sport. These people have no qualms in public expressing their opinions and having their faces seen in all their prejudiced glory. The biggest reports usually come from football stadiums across Europe, but now the same ugly issue has also reared its head in South Africa.


Cape Talk reported over the weekend, when the Springboks took on Australia at Newlands, that a group of men allegedly used the “k-word” every time a player of color got the ball. The men, all dressed in khaki, did not take kindly to being asked to stop either. Eddie Burger told Cape Talk that his son and a friend visited Newlands for the match and when they pointed out to the men in khaki that their behavior was off, they were abused for the remainder of the match.


Western Province Rugby have already responded and said they will not tolerate such behavior.


“I would like to make it quite clear that Newlands and WP Rugby will not tolerate racism of any kind,” WP Rugby chief executive Rob Wagner told Cape Talk Radio.


“Our stadium rules specifically cover racism. Rule 11 states, ‘WP Rugby reserves the right to refuse admission to, or to eject from the ground, any person/s who, in the reasonable opinion of WP Rugby, its servants or agents, makes or incites any form of racial abuse, chanting, gesturing or behavior.”


This kind of response is something that will leave the liberals applauding and cheering with glee as they collectively agree: no, not at our stadiums. Of course it’s the right response and of course racism should be banned, but there is a deeper meaning beneath such behaviour that bears further analysis. The hecklers’ intensions were clearly to get under people’s skins, and their uniformed dressing suggests as much, since khaki isn’t only associated with taking a safari through the bush. But their behavior should also serve as another reminder of a conversation that is long overdue and a culture of denial that needs to be addressed.


We want to deny the persistence of racism in South Africa – from both sides of the spectrum. We want to believe that racism is something reserved for News24 commentators and the internet’s bridge dwellers. We want to believe that these cases are isolated, that we’ve moved on and we live in a happily glowing rainbow nation Nelson Mandela envisioned, but we don’t.


Click here to read full article at Daily Maverick.

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