Crying foul

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am


In November, headlines were made by two men who essentially said the same thing about the same topic - but with very different outcomes.

When Steve Williams was overheard calling Tiger Woods a 'black a******', golfing great Greg Norman jumped to the caddy's defence, saying: 'We've all made stupid comments at stupid times. Unfortunately, his stupid comment became global news. I guarantee you in that room ... there were probably some heavier things said.'

When Fifa president Sepp Blatter was asked about racism in football, he was quoted by CNN as saying: 'There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct. The one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands.'

Essentially, both Norman and Blatter were saying 'boys will be boys and a little casual racism is nothing to worry about'. Yet, despite Norman speaking about a specific incident and Blatter speaking generally, and about what might happen in the 'heat of battle', the former's remarks went uncontested while the latter's set off a storm of righteous fury. Furthermore, Williams apologised to Woods and all was forgiven, in stark contrast to the punishment meted out to Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who was fined ?0,000 (HK$480,000) and given a long ban for racially abusing an opposing footballer.

There'll be those reading this who say that picking up on differences is a human thing to do - and if it's done unthinkingly ('stupidly', to quote Norman) or in the heat of the moment, where's the harm?

Or perhaps it's just that golf is a game full of reactionaries who are far more likely to have been the beneficiaries of discrimination than its victims, and are therefore incapable of seeing the hurt done.