European Football – The “Hateful” Game

DFB-Pokal - Borussia Dortmund - Bayern München

Perhaps it’s because European Football (soccer) is a European game and hatred is and has always been rampant in Europe, that there is a troubling trend in what is called the “beautiful game”.  Quite frankly, despite being around the game for many years, I have failed to gain an appreciation of it.  I suppose it has to do with other alternatives like Football, Hockey and Basketball.  But one thing that is not tolerated in US sports stadiums and arenas, is hateful  or foul language of any kind.  This brings us to a worsening situation in Europe, particularly with the German soccer teams but not confined to Germany; a growing Nazi, anti-Semitic following.  There should be no doubt, no question in anyone’s mind that should the economic crisis in Europe worsen, so too will hatred, racism and anti-Semitism.  Unfortunately, that is the history of Europe and that history, can not be ignored.  The head of the Brandenburg branch of the Government’s intelligence agency, Winfriede Schreiber, recently said, “Again and again we see the neo-Nazi presence in [sports] fan clubs and my office asks that action be taken against them.”  She continued, “For example, we see the fan club in [the German city] Cottbus consisting of a lot of neo-Nazis. We asked the football club to do something about this.”  Miss Schreiber’s job is to monitor extremism and to report evidence of hate crimes to prosecutors. “The danger the neo-Nazis pose is that they are against democracy and they work to alienate young people from democracy,” she said. “They have made ‘Juden’ [Jews] a curse word even if there are no Jews playing on the soccer field.”  But this anti-Semitism is not limited to Germany.  At a November soccer match in the UK, the Telegraph reported that supporters of West Ham, “hissed on several occasions, mocking the mass execution of Jews during the Second World War.  While the hissing, shamefully, is nothing new, Tottenham fans were also subjected to a chant of ‘Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you.”  Black players have faced this type of of hateful racism for years and despite sanctions and fines, the racist chants have not been totally quelled.  While people should be supporters of free speech and expression, there are limits to what is and is not acceptable.  Free speech, espousing the mass extermination of any group, is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.  It would never be acceptable in these United States, despite our troubling past.  It’s what make this country such a special place; we evolve and change.  This country, over time, has come to the realization that women should be allowed to vote and own property; that slavery and separate but equal are not the foundations of a great nation; that the right to choose who you marry should not be legislated  by our government.  It’s a fundamental right.  But in Europe, perhaps because of the rigidity of its past, periods in history referred to as the “Dark Ages”, it will never evolve.  Maybe European history has run its course and now simply fluctuates between periods of prosperity and periods of darkness.   But all free people should celebrate freedom of every kind.  We should not seek separation but strive for unity.  In the end, we have more commonalities than differences.  Those who preach anger, hatred and extermination must not be allowed to push their agendas to the disenfranchised or the weak-minded.  It’s not about free speech, it’s about self-defense.  It’s not about expression it’s about stopping the evil before it takes root.  We must learn from history.  Hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Gay, anti-women, these are not acceptable uses of that which we hold so dear; our right to express ourselves.  When we allow inciteful speech to thrive, we trample on the very meaning of term “free speech”.  We can not allow the unrestricted use of inciteful, hateful speech to allow those with evil intent to use that speech to eventually suppress and even murder those whom they hate.  The Europeans, particularly the Germans, must once and for all demonstrate that these thugs will not be allowed to soil the matches with their hatred.  In the least serious cases, those fans should be ejected from the stadium.  In the more serious cases, the fans should be detained or even incarcerated.  Perhaps the neo-nazis will then get the message that they will not be allowed to thrive in a free and Democratic society.

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