Euro 2012 has been celebrated for the soccer on the pitch and the successful television ratings showing a big increase over four years ago. However, ugly incidents of racism have plagued the tournament. There have been racist tweets in England towards Ashley Cole and Ashley Young for missing penalties in a shootout loss vs Italy. Croatian fans have faced multiple probes for racist chants and crowd behavior. Spain and Russia have been charged by UEFA for racist behavior of fans as well.
But let's not leave the incompetent UEFA out of the criticism. After all, they fined Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner more for having sponsorship on his underwear than they did the Croatian football association for their fans racially assaulting Italy's Mario Balotelli. UEFA and FIFA are two of the most hypocritical organizations in the world, and their slaps on the wrist for racist behavior flies in the face of their supposed commitment to stamp out racism in the global game. They're ones to speak loudly and carry a twig.
But one of the most startling examples of racism was this cartoon that ran in one of Italy's biggest papers, Milan's Gazzetta dello Sport, on Sunday before Italy's game with England. The cartoon depicted their own striker, Mario Balotelli, scaling Big Ben ala King Kong. Because there's nothing racist at all about portraying a black man as a giant gorilla, especially when a banana was thrown on the pitch during one of Balotelli's games.
"We can honestly say it was not among the best products of our talented cartoonist.
"The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise."
"At this time, a measure of prudence and good taste are necessary because everything, absolutely everything, can be misinterpreted," the statement said.
"But those that accuse Gazzetta, and poor Marini, of racism are going overboard.
"This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility."
Disgusting. As if the racist behavior by fans across Europe wasn't bad enough, now the media is going to get in on the act? This "cartoon" from Valerio Marini and Gazzetta dello Sport is despicable. It shows no conscience. It has no place in 2012, 1912, 1012, or any year.
Remember, ESPN fired an editor because of a misguided, yet seemingly unintentional headline surrounding Jeremy Lin. What happens in this case from Gazzetta dello Sport? Nothing. Just a weak, manufactured statement about it not being "our best product" and preaching "moderation" and "good taste." It even implies the cartoon can be misinterpreted and defends itself over accusations of racism. I don't know about you, but I don't see too many other oversized mammals besides King Kong scaling tall buildings in popular culture. There's also the worthless non-apology apology - IF we offended, we're sorry. No, it was offensive, and neanderthalic, and the worst of society and media.
The fact that a newspaper can claim to denounce monkey chants against a human being and publish a cartoon depicting the same human being as a giant gorilla is the absolute worst. If it's not racism and hypocrisy of the highest order, then it's stupidity and ignorance of the highest order. So much for the Enlightenment.