Europe Should Take a Leaf Out Of NBA's Book When Dealing With Racism

Zohaib Ahmed
April, 30, 2014: Racism is there to stay in Soccer, unless authorities do what the NBA did.

This time of the year, it's the NBA Playoffs that dominate most headlines in North American sports, but the happenings of this past week have forced every ball game to take a backseat. The menace of racism reared its ugly head in not one but two major sports within a week.

But while swift and substantial treatment was handed out to the whole Donald Sterling controversy, the same wasn't the case across the pond.

The NBA banned the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner from all basketball-related activity for life and handed him a hefty fine.

Moreover, league commissioner Adam Silver urged other NBA owners to demand of Sterling to sell his franchise. The punishment came within days of his racist rant getting leaked, which shows just how keen the authorities are to clamp down on such issues.

It wasn't a token gesture either. Sterling can now no longer attend any game or enter the facilities of any NBA franchise, including the Clippers, which are still under his ownership. Moreover, if 75 percent of the other NBA owners agree, he can be forced to sell the Clippers, which is one of the most valued and hottest teams in the league due to the city it's based in and the superstar duo it has on its rosters.

He'd still net more than half a billion through the sale, but it'd be at least a few hundred million short of the value Clippers will hold if the team realizes its full potential. It's encouraging to see that the NBA really means business, but unfortunately sports brass in other parts of the world don't share their enthusiasm.  

The Villarreal fan who threw a banana at FC Barcelona soccer defender Daniel Alves last weekend has been banned for life too, but that's the extent of repercussions he will face for his appalling racist taunt. Unlike Sterling, his antic wouldn't put a dent on his financial net worth.

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With his identity not having been made public, his dignity is still pretty much intact. Alves has urged authorities to put the racist man's photo on the internet to publicly shame him, but so far his suggestion hasn’t been paid any heed.

The reality is that occurrences like these are very common in soccer, and unless something real is done to counter it, racism won’t go away no matter how many Kick It Out campaigns they run. Both FIFA and UEFA have to become more decisive and play a proactive role if they want to rid their game of the menace.

Like the NBA, they need to take monumental decisions and make an example out of some cases to demonstrate their seriousness over racism. And not the kind of serious it has been with its ineffective Financial Fair Play regulations.