Friday, April 14, 2006

Look in the mirror, France

Is this Paris or Birmingham, circa 1962:

Warming up on the touchline, a black player jogs toward fans at the Parc des Princes soccer stadium. As he gets closer, a barrage of monkey chants explodes -- "OOOH! OOOH! OOOH!" -- and racist insults fill the air.

Such scenes are increasingly common at the home stadium of Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG, one of France's top soccer teams, and are finding expression in elite soccer leagues across Europe, raising fears that a global sport that calls itself "the Beautiful Game" is getting uglier.

Remember this the next time the Europeans lecture us about social justice.

On the bleachers of Parc des Princes, PSG supporters divide along racial lines in two opposing sections of stands -- the Kop of Boulogne behind one goal and the Tribune d'Auteuil behind the other. Boulogne is nearly entirely Caucasian; Auteuil is multiracial and includes whites.

Instructive also for those in this country who scream racism whenever someone boos Barry Bonds. Imagine if he played in Paris.

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