Sunday, December 6, 2009

a semi-open letter to susy campanale

I wrote an email to Football Italia's Susy Campanale about her blog today, which argues that

Racism must be stamped out of football, but so must play-acting, provocation of opponents and the kind of gamesmanship that has become your bread and butter.


Got that? Play-acting, provocation of opponents, gamesmanship, racism. Yes, you're right. One of these is in fact not like the others. They haven't published my response on their site yet, so I thought I'd put it up here. If you want the shorter and more succinct version of what I attempted to say in the midst of my stuttering rage, please read Martha's response.

---


Dear Susy,

This is unbelievable. So Juve fans actually bring a banner into the stadium saying YOU WOULD ANNOY US EVEN IF YOU WERE WHITE and you mention it as an aside in a blog that berates Mario for acting like a kid who faces extreme provocation when he goes out to play - which, that's right, he is! In a match where, according to C4's own match report, he was not started because they were afraid it would trigger racist chanting? It's as good as saying '...but he provokes it!' in spite of your neatly-placed caveats.

Why is Mario's attitude constantly hogging the focus in any discussion about the reactions he faces? Is this how Italy always treats its bratty kids who are good enough to make it to the national team? No. It isn't. The Tottis and Chiellinis - and even the Cassanos - of the world haven't confused people the way Mario does. Come on. Basic decency goes beyond acknowledging what is right, it's about doing what is right. Shame on you, Ms Campanale. And shame on you, Juve, for sending open letters to your hate-mongering fans when you should be locking them out of your matches.

----

I realise it's not the most reasoned response one could have made under the circs. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't actually want to defend Mario's footballing crimes or anything. He's a teenager with an attitude and a chip on his shoulder, and no one is going to stay that way forever even if a lot of footballers really have made the attempt to do so. I'm just so tired of discussions of anti-Mario racism that are predicated on Mario's attitude, and discussions of Mario's attitude like Campanale's blog ostensibly is, that attempt to equate racist behaviour with that laundry list of his personal sins as though they are in some way related.

When this first started, the season before last, I had a racist moment myself. I looked at the banners and thought oh wow, well. One day Mario Balotelli is going to score the winning goal in a World Cup final, and it will shut everyone up and we will all look back to the abuse he was subjected to as a teenager in sad stupefaction. It was a stupid kneejerk fantasy that made me happy for about a minute. It was obviously rubbish. Mario's future success, and the future improvement of his character, and the thought that maybe somehow someday he is going to morph into the best, nicest, handsomest, most successful footballer ever created, will not stop racism against him. It will not retroactively correct tifosi's failures because he triumphed in spite of them. It will not be the final proof of his Italianness to those who sing that black people cannot be real Italians.

Because Mario's character is really not the point at all.

14 comments:

clash said...

Mario should ditch his Italian colours, he should infact take up the Ghanaian.

He is an amazing talent, who needent rotten in the rotten cauldron that is Italian football.

"the special one"'s comments about him are also not helping the situation.

hope wenger manages to lure this fella to england :D

roswitha said...

clash, I'm totally against that. Unless Mario himself feels that representing Ghana is more important to him, then there's no point in his picking them just because they'll be less racist, or because Italian football needs to be taught a lesson - it's not fair on him or on Ghana's national team. And a lot of racists would be only too happy to see him do just that.

It'd be great to see him play in England or Spain, though - work with a different support system, among other things.

Lincoln said...

"Why is Mario's attitude constantly hogging the focus in any discussion about the reactions he faces? Is this how Italy always treats its bratty kids who are good enough to make it to the national team? No. It isn't. The Tottis and Chiellinis - and even the Cassanos - of the world haven't confused people the way Mario does. Why is Mario's attitude constantly hogging the focus in any discussion about the reactions he faces? Is this how Italy always treats its bratty kids who are good enough to make it to the national team? No. It isn't. The Tottis and Chiellinis - and even the Cassanos - of the world haven't confused people the way Mario does."

Firstly I'm not entirely sure how you can lump Chiellini into a piece about bratty kids considering that he is a thoroughly professional and decent football player.

Secondly Cassano has been massacred by the Italian press and public throughout his career for his ludicrous behavior, starting from when he was a bratty teenager. Cassano still confuses most Italians to this day as a result of his antics.

An interesting note on the match: inter fans held a banner reading ‘i’d rather be black than bianconero [black and white]‘. which, rather idiotically, implicitly says that there is indeed something wrong with being black. smart.

roswitha said...

Hi Lincoln,

Thanks for commenting. You have every right to your opinion of Chiellini - a player I love in spite of his early history of aggressive thuggishness - and the media treatment of Cassano, and perhaps I'd like to argue about them in a separate blog.

Your pointing out that Inter banner really does demonstrate how lightly people in football take the problem of racism, since they apparently aren't willing to take so much as a minute to think about what is so obviously wrong with a banner that says that. Good intent is not at all good enough.

Dr3 said...

love this...i had to write about her too..given that I'm black myself my letter to football-italia..like-yours was unpublishable.

Dr3 said...

I just looked again and I see yours was published..not that my letter was obscene but it was very much directed and pointing the finger at irresponsible reporting on irrelevant information in some sort of cover-up agenda.

roswitha said...

Hey Dr3, sorry to hear they didn't publish yours, policies regarding polite language notwithstanding. It's a poor place for debate. And obviously the silence surrounding the affair continues to an astounding degree, at every level.

Dr3 said...

http://footballrehab.blogspot.com/2010/05/when-in-rome.html

here's my post mentioning the very same 'irresponsible' at best article

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