Racism's ugly specter undermines sport

Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:03pm EDT
 
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - Recent actions by a billionaire owner of a National Basketball Association team and a supporter of a Spanish soccer club have offered the sporting world a stark reminder that racism knows no borders.

From the Staples Center hardwood in Los Angeles to La Liga's manicured pitches, and everywhere sport is played at the highest level, the murky undercurrents of racism flow from the stands and suites to the field of play.

On the same weekend a secretly-recorded racist diatribe by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sparked a firestorm of outrage across the United States, a Villarreal fan tossed a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves as he lined up a corner kick.

Alves responded to the taunt by taking a bite of the fruit while the perpetrator was eventually arrested and banned for life.

The 80-year-old Sterling was also banned for life after his shocking remarks showed there were elements of bigotry even among owners of North American professional sports teams.

"We know that this exists," John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, which monitors diversity in the National Football League, told Reuters. "This is why there are diversity inclusion committees in sports.

"These things exist because that stigma still stands throughout our culture, throughout our country.

"That is why you have to continually stand and fight and deal with it day after day. You have to meet it on all fronts because it comes from all areas."   Continued...

 
A photo cutout of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is seen among people standing in line for the NBA playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California April 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni