Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Racism in Romanian football

Romanian football has a serious problem with racism. This week UEFA punished Steaua Bucharest for racist chanting at their recent match with Shelbourne and forced them to play their next European match 250kms away from home. It’s shameful that it was left to UEFA to finally take some action and the Romanian FA (FRF) has never done anything about it.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been watching a game on TV and heard fans launch into a chorus of monkey chants at one of the opposition’s black players. Because there are not that many black players in Romania, it doesn’t happen at every game, but for example one of the best players at Poli Timisoara, a Senegalese bloke called Mansour, always comes in for abuse, particularly when his team are playing in Bucharest. It’s worst at Steaua, but Dinamo are bad too.

I agree entirely with Csaba Asztalos, president of the Romanian Anti Discrimination Council in this statement "The image of Romanian soccer is in deep crisis and Steaua pays now for the FRF's lack of reaction (to racist behaviour) over the past several years," (taken from this article). In response the FRF spokesman says “these kind of actions are not a large phenomenon (in Romania soccer). It is about isolated incidents.”. Well, if the phenomenon is not widespread it is because there aren’t many black players in Romania. Ask Mansour if he thinks it’s isolated incidents.

Here is a good article about anti-Gypsy racism at Steaua and Dinamo , and in particular how it is not merely a fan-based thing. Gigi Becali (the repugnant owner of Steaua who I have dissed on this blog frequently) is one of the worst offenders. Of course this is not to say that all Steaua fans are racist, nor that racism isn’t a major issue in football elsewhere.

I can only hope that the latest UEFA action will begin a period of self-analysis by the Romanian media so that the FRF finally start to take action.

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