Racism in European Soccer
It's been a while since my last post on soccer "The Future of Soccer in America" so I thought it was about time for me to pick up the reigns again and say something about the sport I love. Before setting out I must first admit that this post isn't directly about soccer per se. As the title suggests this post is really about a stain in the soccer culture of Europe: racism. I doubt many of y'all will know it but there are huge racism problems in European soccer. Moreover, recent episodes have highlighted how much of a problem there really is. While I obviously agree that racism is a problem I want to shed a little light on another problem in the European soccer culture: the problem of secular solutions to the sin of racism.
To be clear about 95% of the racism occurs in the stands and not on the pitch. What this means is that the racism is the racism of the fans, not the players (for the most part). Last week fans of Chelsea Football Club were caught on video in Paris pushing a black Parisian man out of a subway car chanting "We're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it!" (Yahoo Sports Article) This incident was following a Champions League Knockout Stage tie between Chelsea FC and Paris Saint-Germain.
You can probably guess the responses that have arisen in light of this horrific incident. Representatives of Chelsea FC have decried the terrible conduct of their fans and have promised to ban any member of that group from ever attending another Chelsea FC match if evidence can prove who was involve. Likewise the English Football Association and other Football Associations around Europe have all redoubled their stances against the evils of racism.
But these sorts of "stands against racism" and campaigns for "equality" have been pushed in European soccer for about 20 years now. If you turn on a Champions League match next Tuesday or Wednesday you're more than likely to see the electronic panels that line the soccer pitch spell out "Say No to Racism." Often times the captains from each team will read an "official" statement from their club about why "all soccer fans should say no to racism and discrimination of any kind!"
The problem with all these "human rights" campaigns is the problem of fruitlessness. For over twenty years time, money and effort has been poured forth by official "anti-discrimination committees" and racism is still rampant throughout Europe's soccer leagues. Again, last week, an African soccer player who plays for Roma (Italian League) had a giant inflatable banana thrown at him while he attempted to take a corner kick during a UEFA League match against Feyenoord (Dutch League). (Bleacher Report Article)
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says "You will recognize them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16) In other words, if the tree produces apples, it's an apple tree. If the tree produces oranges, it's an orange tree. Human rights campaigns and anti-discrimination campaigns like the ones FIFA, UEFA and the English FA are promoting can only produce bad fruit. They are always destined to fail. The reason is because they are trying to bring about peace apart from the Prince of Peace.
Jesus is the center of all history. The secular world wants to ignore this reality. They want government without Jesus. But the Bible says that "the government will be upon his shoulders." (Isaiah 9:6). They want people of different races and ethnic clans to no longer be hostile to one another. But the Bible says that only through Jesus can the dividing wall of hostility be broken down:
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
The Bible does not teach that all different peoples get along with each other naturally. To the contrary the Bible assumes that different clans and races are hostile to one another. Moreover, the Bible teaches that it is only through the reconciling work of Jesus Christ that the wall of hostility between races can be broken down.
Centralized organizations, whether governments or sports leagues love to "play" god. They like to try to "give" people rights (as though they have that power), they like to try to disperse blessings and curses and they like to try to reconcile groups of people. Yet in every attempt to do this without the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ only further animosity prevails. This is the lie of secularism: that centralized planning committees can accomplish what only God can accomplish, but without God. The results have been catastrophic not least of all in the racism surrounding European soccer.
So like I mentioned in the beginning, today's post was not really about soccer. But like everything in our world, pursuing existence apart from Christ is futile. Whether it be in the social ills of European soccer, the family life of middle class America or the economic policies of China, nothing is to be pursued outside of Christ.
Food for thought.