Monday 23 October 2017

Sport's message of hope shouts louder than the tweets of hate and racism

Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise the Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. What if their raised black-gloved fists had been ignored?
Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise the Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. What if their raised black-gloved fists had been ignored?

Ashling O'Connor

Symbolism is everywhere in sport: triumph over adversity, David versus Goliath, personal redemption etcetera, etcetera. It is also a conduit for a rather less savoury kind of imagery – an extreme example being the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Given its universality, it can be no surprise that sport reflects most things about our society, the good and the evil.

However, even by these standards, it has been a remarkable week. First, West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was charged by the Football Association after celebrating his first goal against West Ham United with the "quenelle" – a gesture he says is purely an anarchic one but most people believe carries anti-Semitic overtones.

Then Stan Collymore, the former striker turned radio pundit, received such a tirade of racial abuse via Twitter after suggesting Luis Suarez dived to win a penalty that he was forced to spend his birthday on TV news and chat shows challenging the social networking site to do something about it.

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