Racist is as racist does

Last week’s U21 football game between Serbia and England ended with racist chants yelled by a great number of Serbian fans to black English players, spurring an internet debate on whether all Serbs are racist. The article originally featured on Belgraded tries to tackle this issue, with some tips on how to properly offend a black football player without being a racist scum

English player Danny Rose at the U21 game in Krusevac between Serbia and England (0-1) / Photo: AP

England’s got beef with Serbia. According to the British tabloids, that is. If you read British tabloids, you may really begin to believe Serbia is a racist country. But those tabloids are not always to be trusted – ask the Liverpudlians. Also, if you always believe what’s being written in those, be careful – you might be a racist yourself.

Serbia as a whole is not racist. The town of Krusevac where the now infamous incident happened is not racist either. They even put up a nice banner saying exactly that.

On the other hand, Serbian tabloids try to negate the whole thing and say that racism in Serbia doesn’t exist – because we never had extensive and significant cultural contact with people of different race in our history.
It’s not surprising that both English and Serbian tabloids are wrong, because, well, it’s tabloid press, what did you expect. Serbia is not a racist country, but there are definitely cases of racism, and what happened at the U21 game in Krusevac is one of such cases.

Sometimes the racist among us are difficult to spot, because they just keep their racist thoughts to themselves. Other times, not so difficult to spot, because they yell monkey chants to a black football player.

It’s true that people who yelled the monkey chants only did that because they knew black player would get offended. And they knew that because they probably saw people in England used the same racist chants couple of decades ago. But, guess what – not only this doesn’t justify them, it only confirms the men who yelled those are racist.

It’s true that the black player provoked the crowd to react by showing middle finger to them. But, guess – what – the crowd reacted in a manner that is still racist.

It’s true that we don’t have history filled with racist incidents, like many other countries, including England have had. But, guess what – if you start acting like a racist prick all of a sudden, no black person will stop and think about your history. You are still racist.

Crowds shouting hideous stuff at football players is nothing new, and it’s certainly a part of football. But there is a clear difference in how and why you insult someone.

Here’s a simple test – if you are there on the stands, and you want to offend a black player who just gave you a middle finger, how do you do it?

If you say “Don’t you wave that finger at me, you fucking prick. I hope you and your teammates rot in hell, you asshole cunt motherfucker” – good news, you are not a racist. But it seems your tourrettes is acting up.

If you, on the other hand, say “Why, that’s no way to treat me and my fellow game-observers. Here, have a banana. Because, you sir, are a monkey” – bad news, you are racist, even if you do sound like a true gentleman.

You can’t punish the racist fans, for one simple reason – they went home and are now keeping their racist thoughts to themselves, ie they are impossible to identify. But someone needs to get punished, and if you ask me (and you’re clearly not asking me), I would say the Serbian football association, who with their reactions after the game really made the bad situation seem much worse. May they all be banned from having anything to do with any sport for the rest of eternity.