We all love the Irish. Don’t we? Well, now we should all love them. Or love them some more. So says the Union of European Football Association (UEFA). The European football’s governing body has decided to give Irish fans a special award for good behavior during the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. UEFA is so impressed that its President, Michel Platini, will personally travel to Ireland to hand deliver the award.
UEFA’s secretary-general, Gianni Infantino, had this to say during a ews conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev: “Everyone was very impressed by the fans of the national team of the Republic of Ireland who came to Poland. The team’s results were mitigated by the fans.”
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The award comes hot on the heels of other progressive actions by UEFA. This time targeting hate crimes by football fans during the tournament. UEFA has fined the Russian Football Union €30,000 after the country’s supporters taunted the Czech Republic’s black defender, Theodor Gebre Selassie. The Royal Spanish Football Federation is to part with €20,000 for racist chants shouted at Italian star-striker, Mario Balotelli
Quite frankly, it’s a beautiful thing for a black sportsperson to represent a white-dominated country. After all, football is the beautiful game. The sport of true diversity.
Still, a question for my Russian and Spanish brothers and sisters. How is it such a terrible thing that Theodor Gebre Selassie plays for the Czech Republic’s national soccer team? How is it such a terrible thing that Mario Balotelli plays for the Italian national soccer team?
I wish I could show you how my heart would dance with joy whenever I watched my white Zimbabwean brothers representing that country’s national cricket team on the world stage. And when my white brothers Neil Tovey, Matthew Booth, Mark Fish and Eric Tinkler played for Bafana Bafana (Zulu for The Boys, The Boys), the South African national soccer team.