WINDHOEK – Namibian football heavyweights reacted with shock and dismay over racial comments made by former AC Milan and Italy’s gaffer Arrigo Sacchi.
The latter claimed Italy has lost “dignity and pride” as a result of hopelessly too many darkies playing in the Italian football youth structures. His comments caused a furore on social media attracting widespread condemnation that saw local football heavyweights weigh into the row.
Former NFA President, John Muinjo, also met Saachi’s assessment with disdain. “I strongly condemn the ongoing insane barbaric act of racism against black athletes in Europe.”
Muinjo says what is happening in Italy and the rest of the world cousined by the unbecoming behaviour of Chelsea’s fans for pushing a black passenger off a moving train is abhorrent to the civil society and should be condemn in the strongest terms at all levels from governments to peace loving citizens of the globe.
“Football and sports in general is all about respect, tolerance and fair play. We should at all costs in Namibia discourage racism as [it] is sickening and has no place in football or society.”
The retired football supremo says black footballers have always proven themselves to be a much sought-after species and European clubs cannot do without the endangered black negroes, who need to be respected in return for their breathtaking exploits on the football pitch.
“Currently, football has become the focus of attention for all the wrong reasons despite continued attempts by the custodians like Fifa, CAF, Cosafa, member associations and clubs to eradicate racism in sport.
“Sports should be maximised as a unifying factor and must not be used to advance racial prejudices. Sport is the easiest vehicle to attain transformation hence the inevitable inter-relations between whites and blacks that brought into life coloured people in our midst,” charges local sports guru and former footballer Aupapa Shipanga.
“Bazooka”, as Shipanga was known during his playing days with Swaziland leading football club Manzini Wanderers, pulls no punches and says while the global village has embraced the total destruction of racial segregation, some people are still preoccupied with sickening colonial mentalities.
“We need to speak up and not allow ourselves to be subjected to any racial humiliation in this era and age.”
Shipanga adds that Ivory Coast’s triumph in the just-ended African Cup on Nations (Afcon) should serve as an eye opener for the crucial role sports play in the area of unification.
“All the differences of the last couple of decades were put aside and the whole country was united in body and soul. Ironically, French mentor Renard Herve is accredited for bringing continental honour to their nation,” narrates the former Blue Waters forward.
The Italian government also jumped in calling for an end to racism. “The Italy of 30 years ago is not the Italy of today,” said Graziano Delrio, State Secretary to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who also holds responsibility for sport in the Italian council of ministers.
“Today there are young players who are Italian citizens in fact and by right given that they were born and raised in Italy even if their parents had overseas roots.
“They are part of the young generations who go to our schools, who play on our sports fields. And the theme of skin colour is certainly not where we should start trying to revitalise our youth system.”
Sacchi’s comments come less than three months after FIGC president, Carlo Tavecchio, was barred from holding any position with Fifa for sixmmonths over an alleged racist comment he made in August.
Tavecchio, 71, then campaigning for his current position, caused an outcry when he made a comment about a fictitious African player he named ‘Opti Poba’ “eating bananas”.
– Additional reporting Nampa/AFP