Insulting is not racism

Spain is not racist, or at least not more than other countries or societies. Insults are not racism; they are bad manners.

What happens on the field is reproduced, multiplied, in the stands. That’s why I hardly go to football matches and stopped going to basketball games – too much noise on the field unsettles me, excites me, and makes me loose control and composure. That’s why when I get upset, I try to leave the stadiums, whatever they may be. That’s why I won’t criticize someone who loses their temper.

A completely different matter is the organized groups dedicated to insulting black people, South Americans, overweight individuals, gays, and so on; all of those are unnecessary everywhere. The separatist politicians who insult non-separatist politicians, left-wing/right-wing politicians who insult their opponents—those are the things that worry me more, much more.

Insulting a football player cannot be a matter of state while applauding insults against political opponents. One thing cannot be deemed healthy and the other unhealthy.

Let’s put things in their right place, insults are not worse than physical aggression, they are not punished more severely than physical assaults in any legal system, and one is in no way justified by the other.

Analyzing the Vinicius mess objectively, the opportunism of “Tito Florentino” (Florentino Perez is Real Madrid Chairman) and the outrageous statements of the coach when he expresses his support to Vinicius for everything; no, man, you can’t support everything because he has assaulted a colleague – from another team, but someone who does the same job as him. He has confronted the audience, produced and reproduced provocative and tasteless gestures.

Then come the excuses, saying he’s 20 years old, under a lot of pressure. Nonsense! Those who struggle to make money every single month and work on scaffolding are the ones under a lot of pressure. Vinicius doesn’t have any pressure; he is privileged and, at the same time, ill-mannered, an actor in a circus that earns him and the circus millions of profits. As such a privileged individual, he should be held to higher standards of behavior than a brute in the stands, more in line with his position on the field, and his mistakes should not be excused.

So, there’s no pity for him, let’s not confuse the terms. And no, it’s not part of his job to endure insults, whether they are racist or not. What is part of his job is to behave with education and dignity, to be a true athlete and not just a great athlete.

Being insulted doesn’t justify his behavior, and what concerns me today is his conduct, as much as the behavior of those brainless individuals who called him a monkey, actually defining themselves. Those individuals probably won’t set foot in a football field again and should be sanctioned with the utmost severity according to their behavior.

Vinicius should not be treated as a hero, and that also worries me. His conduct is reprehensible as a role model for the youth. And I continue with what worries me; I worry that these actors in a spectacle are allowed to disrespect each other, pretend, insult, cheat, and so on.

I worry that they are cheered on in these behaviors because the behaviors we see on the field are the ones that set an example for our youth, they are the ones we pass off as good, and if we justify his violence as a response to insults, it will justify the violence of others as well. It creates an absolutely harmful spiral. And what I see in the stands worries me, but I insist that what I see on the field worries me much more because that’s where the cameras are focused.

The reason is obvious, and we can’t make excuses because those on the field are paid to behave, they are paid to provide a good spectacle and to be an example of values, not for this. Because Vinicius’ reaction has an explanation but never a justification.

No, the league is not racist, Spain is not racist. The league has a protocol of action and applies it, Spain has laws and enforces them.

But I insist, the problem is not just that they call Vinicius a monkey; the problem is that insults are thrown in football stands. It’s terrible to be called a monkey, very terrible, but it’s also terrible to be called a son of a bitch. Insults are not tolerable, or at least they shouldn’t be, not in a sports venue, nor in any place.

Are we going to make a catalog of acceptable and unacceptable insults in a football stadium? And what about a basketball court? Let’s be truly serious, not just for the sake of appearances today. It bothers me when they insult Vinicius or any mega professional who earns a fortune, but it’s not a matter of state. The problem would be if measures, both general (to prevent it) and specific (to repress it), are not taken.

I’m concerned that in sports, and in football specifically, people don’t know what a true athlete is, and a continuous bad example is set. Journalists praising a player for being clever when he fakes a foul and dives, when he exaggerates a tackle by writhing in pain only to immediately get up when the referee blows the whistle, limping a bit and then running again.

That’s the problem, the deceit, the cheating, and the bad behavior on the field that leads to what happens outside. Because let’s not fool ourselves, it’s the stands that heat up and turn into what happens on the pitch, not the other way around. Though there may be exceptions. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

“I’ll give you the definition of an athlete, at least the one I learned as a child before social media, perhaps it suggests something:

“An athlete is someone who not only strengthens their muscles and develops their endurance in the practice of a great sport but also, in that practice, learns to suppress their anger, to be tolerant of their teammate, not to take advantage of a vile advantage, to deeply feel the mere suspicion of cheating as a dishonor, and to maintain a cheerful demeanor despite the disappointment of a setback.”

And to conclude, two facts:

The first one is historical, about non-racism, as in Spain, 5 centuries before any other country, perhaps the first example in history of laws can be found in the reservations expressed regarding servitude in the Siete Partidas of Alfonso X el Sabio (13th century), the first legal code written in Castilian.

Its texts have important consequences because Queen Isabella of Castile, by a Royal Provision dated June 20, 1500, determined that the Indians who were in Andalusia, sent by Columbus, should be set free and returned to their “natural habitats” in the American continent. And what greater sign of acceptance of the different and equality than this?

The second one is nowadays, as a rhetorical question, in all this commotion: what meaning can be attributed to the harassments, insults against political parties, the constant disqualification of the opponent, the derogatory statements about the right-wing, the frontism of Candidate Manamaná Yolanda Díaz, the remarks of the lamentable Pablo Iglesias about the anti-occupiers, or the clumsy former minister blaming a journalist or political rivals for what happened in Valencia?

Because, of course, insulting as a means of communication, which should always be rejected, seems to not matter if the insult is, let’s say it in Asturian, a minor insult or if it is directed from the left to the right. Because when she was criticized for her political clumsiness with the “yes means yes” law, it was a serious matter.

I end on a positive note because I didn’t need to make comparisons between sports and athletes for this. And believe me, I was tempted.”