Dear international sports blogs, antiracism activists, and the Tumblr community at large,
While you were all busy whipping yourselves into a frenzy over rumors that Mario Balotelli was brought to tears by racist chants last week — rumors that have now been debunked by everyone from Balotelli’s family to Clarence Seedorf, his (black) coach at AC Milan — you missed a real incident of horrific racism.
Meet Marcelo Vieira, vice-captain of Real Madrid and a consistent starter for the Brazilian national team. Last Wednesday, Marcelo was subjected to racists attacks by opposing fans after a match against Real Madrid’s crosstown rivals, Atlético Madrid — along with his four-year old son, Enzo.
Marcelo did not play in the game but joined a handful of team-mates in a warm-down session around 20 minutes afterwards. At that stage the only supporters left in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium were around 500 Atlético fans high in the north stand. As Marcelo ran towards them, they launched into monkey chants which were clearly audible in the virtually empty arena.
Marcelo stopped immediately below the fans and, motionless, gazed up at them before contuining his exercise. They then chanted: “Marcelo is a monkey.” When Marcelo’s young son came out and hugged his father soon after, the chant changed to: “May your father die.” [x]
According to other reports, the crowd also chanted, “Marcelo is not your father,” a taunting reference to Enzo’s mixed heritage.
…Yes, you read that right: they racially abused and threatened a four-year old child.
Unlike the Balotelli speculation, what happened to Marcelo and Enzo was real; it’s been corroborated by eyewitness accounts, video footage, and Marcelo himself. But it has received a fraction of the coverage and the international outrage — because Balotelli is more famous than Marcelo, because Balotelli crying provides a more compelling visual than Marcelo hugging his son (although the photo of Balotelli that many outlets ran wasn’t even from the same match), and because it fits into a pattern of racism that Balotelli deals with on a regular basis.
But while antiracism isn’t a zero-sum game, sports journalism often is, especially with topics like racism that make people uncomfortable. Most fans don’t want to read about racism too often — even though this shit literally happens all the fucking time. So if you’re an editor, you pick the story that’s going to get you the most attention, with the catchiest visuals and the most famous name attached. And if it’s not true? Well, there’s always the next scoop.
Meanwhile, a bunch of dicks now have new ammunition for their argument that racism is all an invention of media sensationalism and political correctness run amuck. And this shit keeps happening.
So get your shit together, and do better.
Dani Alves, Brazilian player for FCBarcelona, has been chanted “moro moro” which means “monkey” for years during every game he has played at the Santiago Bernabeu. Not once, not twice, for YEARS. It has not even been mentioned by even Barca’s own fans.