When institutions fail us

| January 21, 2013
Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

Well here we are only weeks into a new year and football finds itself embroiled in yet another issue of racism. Kevin Prince-Boateng’s decision to walk-off during AC Milan’s match against Pro Patria taking his team mates and their opponents with him appears to be a watershed moment; Boateng’s actions seemingly uniting footballers, footballer managers and football pundits from across the globe.

Cristiano Ronaldo being allowed to use FIFA’s 2012 Ballon d’or as a platform to comment on the matter also indicates the strength of feeling around the football world. However it is FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter and his continued willingness to play politics that we should be worried about. I say this not because I disagree with Blatter saying, “Walk off?

No. I don’t think that is the solution.” For me it is FIFA’s failure to properly deal with racism under Blatter’s leadership that is much more concerning.

I most definitely will not be the first person to say that FIFA under Blatter has continually shown that it doesn’t know how to deal with racism; what’s worse it appears that FIFA is incapable of taking the matter seriously. With a leader having to furiously back pedal following biting criticism of his comment  “racism on the football pitch is not an issue and can be settled with a handshake” it is clear to see why there’s a loss of faith. Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand makes it clear that there is a gulf in opinion between football players and their governing body saying Blatter’s comments were “so condescending it’s almost laughable.”

The likes of Ferdinand and Prince-Boateng have every right to feel aggrieved if the reward for not being constantly concerned about their own humanity is to watch FIFA brush concerns about race under the carpet while suggesting football under it’s stewardship is a driver of world unity.

For me there is a message here that is being repeated by many other institutions: the institution is more important than the individuals within it. Across the globe those of us who have had to put our faith in institutions like banks or multi-nationals are now the only ones who are really dealing with the failures of these institutions.

Kevin Prince Boateng. Photo courtesy www.ghanalive.tv

Kevin Prince Boateng. Photo courtesy www.ghanalive.tv

The Guardian newspaper’s ‘Datablog’ shows that “26.06 million people in the whole European Union were unemployed in November 2012 – an increase of 154,000 people on the previous month. Compared with November 2011, unemployment has risen by 2.012m.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts current unemployment levels in America at 12.2 million persons.

I’m sure it is not news to anyone that in America and across Europe cuts in the public sector have had a major impact on the lives of people who either relied on it for employment or the services that it provided. Under these circumstances the message is clear to the individual: you are on your own.

Or as the UK government wishes, through its ‘Big Society’ agenda, each person takes on the work that used to be done by the public sector and in so doing takes responsibility for their own life improvement. If this message is taken on board by the public then institutions will like FIFA will have to accept that they will no longer be in a position to decide what action the individual takes in the face of behaviour they find intolerable.

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Category: Caines Corner, Culture & Society, Sports

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