During the opening match of the Confederations Cup, between South Africa and Iraq, the majority of Spanish media (such as El Pais or Telecinco – the TV Channel that has the rights to broadcast the FIFA Confederations Cup matches) reported and even criticised South African spectators for booing Matthew Booth, one of the most popular players of the South African selection.
Everytime the 6ft 2 inches South African defender (the tallest player in the tournament) got the ball, the stadium was abuzz with the crowd screaming “Boooooooth”. This is a tradition amongst the fans as many have witnessed. We recall a time when Mark Fish (who played in England) the call would ring throughout the stadium and the neighbourhood…“Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh”. So too did the legendary John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu (who played in Turkey too). The crowd would greet every great pass, dribble or goal with loud chorus of “Shoeeeeeeeees”. The question I pose is why did our media (print and audiovisual) so quickly jump to the conclusion implicitly that this was the first “…booooooth” was an act of racism by the spectators, whereas, as I have shown this is a tradition amongst die hard fans?
Simply put, because Mathew Booth happens to be the only white player in this current Bafana Bafana (the boys) – the national football team of South Africa.
It saddens me that the media in Spain and those published in Catalunya so wrongly judges a people (the non-whites, according to the label of the previous regime) that have suffered and made many compromises to a South Africa where divisions of race and gender are eliminated. This long road to freedom, as their former leader Nelson Mandela wrote in his book and demonstrated in his life, has been truly hard. Madiba spent almost a third of his life in prison for fighting for social justice, and showed his magnimanity by not being vindictive to his former oppressors, even accepting to share the Nobel Peace Prize with the last white president (FW de Klerk) of such inhuman regime. It saddens me that the quality of journalism appeared to be so low: they seem not to have asked the fans nor Booth himself about what had transpired. If they had spent a little more effort they would have quickly learned of their error and not have written the insulting piece.
In any case, in the light of such conclusions given and accepted so quickly and easily, the question that seems to follow is: where is racism, in them or in our eyes?
Ps. After writing to many of these papers and even calling one of the biggest papers in Spain about the error of their ways in this article, none of them have had the courage to correct it yet.
This article first appeared o the blog girafas se escribe con J
* From the Spanish expression literally meaning “the thief thinks that everybody is a thief as well”.