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[Sports] Soccer solves society’s ills

Kicks, punches, and head-butts defeat racism, sexism

Steven Wells

If you didn’t watch the semifinal of the women’s soccer World Cup between hot favorites the U.S. and plucky Third World underdogs Brazil, you don’t know dick about sports. Seriously, take a break now and go type “Marta” into YouTube and then come back.

See what I mean? On at least two occasions 21-year-old striker Marta tore apart the U.S. defense with moves that defied physics. (For non-soccer-heads, Michael Jordan might serve as a point of comparison. And that’s flattering the big guy.)

But the best thing about Marta is the suggestion that she might actually be better than many male professional soccer players. This has been shrugged off here in the U.S. (where we know chicks rock at soccer), but in those countries like Britain and Argentina, where the soccer field is the fulcrum of masculinity, and one’s ability to smack the round ball is considered a more reliable signifier of maleness than the possession of external genitalia, Marta has caused mass groin-clutching. Men in soccer chat rooms have screamed en masse that no woman will ever, ever, ever be

good enough to play with the very best men. It’s been terrific fun.

But don’t laugh too hard, American. One day this country will produce a ponytailed super-fast 400-pound linebacker named Jennifer. And that too will result in a much howling, gnashing of teeth and clutching of testicles. And men will then move on to a sport that actually involves using the penis to hit the ball.

Another soccer player you might not have heard of is Eric Cantona, a brilliant French midfielder. Cantona’s defining moment came when he reacted to a fan shouting, “F--k off back to France, you French motherf--ker!” by attempting to drop-kick the swine in the chest and then punch his head off.

The media were outraged. “You would have thought that the pope had been gang-raped by aliens,” wrote libertarian soccer writer Duleep Allirajah.

But when it turned out the abusive fan had attended neo-Nazi rallies and had been convicted of attacking a Sri Lankan-born immigrant with a 3-foot spanner, all right-thinking people applauded Cantona as an antiracist hero.

“It’s very ironic that it took a white Frenchman to bring home to the nation the issue of racism in football,” said black British soccer player John Barnes.

And then in the 2006 World Cup final, French captain (and footballing genius) Zinedine Zidane, a child of North African immigrants, reacted to what was allegedly racist abuse from an Italian player by head-butting him. When Zidane arrived home he was met by thousands of fans who greeted him as a hero, chanting, “Zizou, Zizou!”

In light of all the cheese-paring piffle written about the Jena Six by liberal journalists apparently attempting to equate resistance to racism with racism itself (six black kids were charged with attempted murder for thumping a white kid for allegedly making racist comments) I have to ask: Is it ever morally wrong to hit a racist?

If Jackie Robinson, during his first game with the Dodgers, had reacted to racist abuse by taking his bat and smacking some bigoted scumbag in the face, would that have made him the moral equivalent of the racist? Would it hell.

In 1979, the legendary music journalist Lester Bangs wrote an article—titled “The White Noise Supremacists”—about the casual racism of the mid-’70s New York punk scene.

You guys have every right to go around spewing racism, he concluded, but no right to whine when some black guy walks up and smacks you in the mouth.

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