Tuesday, December 22, 2009

22 December 2004 - Racism Rears Its Ugly Heads

On 22 December 2004, FIFA fined the Spanish Football Federation €60,000 as punishment for racist chants during a friendly between Spain and England at the Bernabéu Stadium the previous month.

The abuse consisted of monkey chants directed against England's black players, including defenders Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand, as well as substitutes Jermaine Jenas, Shaun Wright-Phillips (pictured), and Jermain Defoe. While such chants have a regrettably long history in football, the chants at the Bernabéu were notable for the pervasive participation of the crowd--according to one spectator, 80% of the crowd were chanting.

The event came on the heels of an earlier incident in September, when Spain manager Luis Aragonés had been overheard calling Thierry Henry a "black shit" when trying to motivate Henry's Arsenal teammate, Spanish international José Antonio Reyes.

The incident drew wide condemnation from authorities and commentators in several countries, including Spain itself. Afterward, the Spanish Football Federation began work on an anti-racism campaign.

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