An Open LetterTo The Hosts Of GOL TV’S 45/45

By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: April 22, 2005

MIAMI,FLA.—Mi espanol es muy limitada. Es necesario por me a escribir eso en ingles.

As a Black American soccer fan who is extremely passionate about the game of soccer and at the same time repulsed and angered by the increase of racist acts that have polluted the game in recent months, I watched with interest and a little disbelief as the panelists on Thursdays edition of 45/45 spoke about racism in futbol, especially as it related to the incident in the Copa Libertadores last week. Leandro Desbato of Argentine side Quilmes called Black Brazillian player Grafite of Sao Paulo, a “monkey” and “Black piece of shit” on the field and, I imagine much to his suprise, found himself in jail because of it.

Grafite of Sao Paulo (sambafoot)

Once again the ugliness of racism in futbol is almost matched by its apologists.

I shook my head as I watched as this respected panel of soccer experts express their disbelief with what happened in Brazil.

“This has been happening since the beginning of futbol” “It was done on the field of futbol and should stay there” “Destatbo is from a country where there are not many Blacks”


The best of the bunch, however, was Martin Ainstein (an Argentine?) asserting that this was just some vast Brazillian media conspiracy.

Es un broma, si? (This is a joke, right.)

Let us be clear. Let us say it again.



The fact that players have been racially abusing opposing players since the beginning of futbol by no way excuses its pratice. Calling a Black player a monkey is simply wrong and to further excuse it by saying it happens “on the field of fubol and should stay there.” is akin to saying, “The sidelines of a futbol field will protect you if you racially abuse a player.”

Adrenaline, like alcohol, only serves to loosen one’s tongue and in this case, this tongue let loose with insults that had they been hurled on the street, on a bus, in an office or at some television studio, a fight would have ensured very quickly. Simply put there is simply no reason to call someone a monkey, no matter how few Blacks there are in Argentina (if any aside from an occasional Boca Juniors player).

The problem of racism in this sport is not something new. Whether we’re talking about 1)the racist sounds of Spanish fans in the Bernabeu making monkey chants whenever Black English players touch the ball and throwing bananas at Espanyol GK Carlos Kameni; 2)Luis Aragones; 3)the perceived institutionalized racism that prevents Blacks from the upper echelons of coaching (how many times are the Van Gaals, the Redknaps, etc. recycled but Jean Tigana & John Barnes are sitting at home watching as many games as you guys do) and upper management in both the European and S. American game; 4) or the media (e.g. Argentine newspapers saying “Bring on the Monkeys” when Argentina reached the gold medal game of the 1996 Olympics knowing they would play either eventual winner Nigeria or Brazil).

To say that the Brazillian government, led by Globo, is now trying to compete with Europe in the fight against racism as was suggested on the program only seems to suggest that this sort of thing should be excused.


But let’s assume that is indeed the case. Is that a bad thing? If the arrest of one racist for saying such things makes another think twice before doing the same thing, hasn’t futbol scored a victory? If we are serious about eradicating racism, shouldn’t we be happy that SOMEONE is doing something?

The 45/45 commentators all reside in the US. The United States has a shameful history regarding race relations that continues to this day. But you will NEVER hear this type of racial abuse in the professional sports in the US. Even the upper echelons of leagues that govern hockey and our futbol, MLS, which are majority white sports in this country, have made it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Compare that to UEFA and the Spanish Federation, who have consistently demonstrated their less than 100% commitment to eradicating racism in football with the paltry fines they’ve assessed against racist offenders.

I often read soccer-bashing articles by sports columnists in the US that talk about how stupid soccer is blah blah blah. The one thing that we cannot respond to with any credibility is the racism that pervades the game.

So long as they have their apologists, willing to explain away the racist offenses that blight this game and the governing bodies of the sport do nothing about it, the racists will continue to make the Beautiful game not so Beautiful.

Which side are you on?

Will you condemn the racists, on the pitch, in the stands, in the board rooms?

Or will you excuse their behavior by citing media conspiracies?

Will you help rid the Beautiful Game of the virus that is racism? Or blame others?

Racism in football is unaccepatable.

As are the apologies and excuses.