by K. Rajan and T. Avineshwaran
PETALING JAYA: Football is one of the biggest and most popular sports in the world.
But unlike other sports, racism has crept into the Beautiful Game and has now reared its ugly head on our shores.
In Malaysia, players and even coaches have long been subjected to racial abuse but chose to remain silent … until now.
On April 30, Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim lodged a complaint to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) that referee Mohd Zohri Tajuddin had made derogatory remarks to one of their foreign players.
This is not the first time a team or player have lodged a complaint.
In 2014, former Negri Sembilan striker Jean Owana was taunted with monkey chants by Police fans.
He complained to the referee but was told to play on.
Penang striker Ndumba Make-che also reported to the management that his own fans were racially abusing him, again no action was taken.
More countries are making an effort to curb racism in football by taking action against the perpetrators and setting up laws to nip the problem in the bud, but in Malaysia, the tidak apa attitude still prevails.
Education is key and it must start at home to combat racism.
Teachers too play an important role to educate students about respect for fellow human beings.
And our children must realise that this vile behaviour have no place in our society.
World football governing body, FIFA, came out with resolution on their fight against racism and discrimination at their 63rd Congress in Mauritius in 2013.
In one of their resolutions, prevention and sanctions were key to tackling the issues and called for member associations to apply sanctions provided for in the FIFA Statutes and the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
The Football Association of Malaysia president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said they will now listen to the players and have promised to punish the culprits.
Former M-League legend Marlon Alex James, who has played for Kedah and Armed Forces, said it all boils down to respect.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, what colour is your skin. What matters is to enjoy the game and to respect one another, even your rivals.
“This is just a game. People need to calm down,” said the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines player.
Racism has no place in sports or anywhere else.
Let’s make Malaysian football a truly beautiful game.
* European football governing body (UEFA) ordered Montenegro to play their next home Euro 2020 qualifier in an empty stadium after England’s Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were targeted by racist abuse by Montenegrin supporters during England’s 5-1 win in Podgorica on March 26.
* Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk were sanctioned with a partial stadium closure in their next UEFA competition match as a result of racist behaviour from their supporters at the Europa League match between Shakhtar and Eintracht Frankfurt on Feb 14.
* Italian club Lazio were sanctioned with a partial stadium closure in their next UEFA competition match and fined €20,000 (RM93,000) for racial abuse during their Europa League match against Sevilla on Feb 20.
* Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade were ordered to play their next two European home games in an empty stadium and slapped with a fine of €130,000 (RM602,000) as punishment for fan racism and crowd unrest in their two Champions League qualifying matches against Montenegro’s Buducnost and Greek team Olympiakos by UEFA, last August.
* Urawa Reds fans hung a banner saying “Japanese only” in English over an entrance to the stands at a match against Sagan Tosu at Saitama Stadium.
The J-League ordered the team to play their next match in an empty stadium behind closed doors on March 2014. The team have since prohibited fans from hanging banners in the stadium.
* On September 2014, Gremio were banned from competing in the Copa do Brasil after some of their fans were seen racially abusing an opposition player.
* World football governing body (FIFA) fined Hong Kong Football Association €24,330 (RM112,750) after their fans were found guilty of racist behaviour during a friendly against the Philippines in Hong Kong on June 4, 2013.