Monday, June 10, 2013

Racism in Italian Soccer Piece by Wright Thompson

Published last week for ESPN was a great feature by Wright Thompson with "When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly". I've posted on and linked to a number of pieces by Thompson and he combines excellent writing with what appears to be a tremendous amount of reporting, with him noting on Twitter spending "34 days from leaving home until the story running" along with the below note and pic...…
Subtitle to the piece is "A journey into the world of Italy's racist soccer thugs" and one of the things Thompson does is look at how the recent spike in ugliness from fans towards black players coincides with larger trends that are inspiring hatred and violence. From the story was "I got sent to write about racism, which I found in staggering amounts. But Italy isn't like America, and racism there is tied into a thousand years of feuds, and hatred of anyone different, even if they're from only a few miles away, and fascism, and the recent wave of immigration."

Along these lines, the story reminds me of both how I've heard about a recent increase in xenophobia throughout Europe and blog post I wrote two years ago which linked to some very well done writing around what could be labeled "politics of discontent" and how the causes of horrible events must be examined. A couple of sections from the pieces I linked to were as follows...

From UK-based writer Penny Red on a post to her personal blog about rioting in London... "The violence on the streets is being dismissed as ‘pure criminality,’ as the work of a ‘violent minority’, as ‘opportunism.’ This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it."

From Charlie Pierce in his Esquire story "The Bomb That Didn't Go Off"... "'The radical Right,' cautions Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, 'is a response to real things that are happening to real people in the real world.' A political act of madness is still a political act. We use the madness to separate the events so that we don't have to recognize the politics they have in common. The madness of each individual act enables us to distance ourselves from the politics that burn under the polite society we've created like a fuse looking for tinder, like a bag in search of a bench.' 

It was great writing by Thompson and one of the things that made it great was it wasn't just about racist soccer fans, but rather those fans, the athletes targeted by them and the causes (as twisted and varied as they may be) of the hatred.