Remember back in the year 2000 when we all thought that the world would come to an abrupt end due to the Y2K bug - the inability of Global systems which our world operates on to understand the first two digits, 2-0, of the new millennium! Well, we're still here 18 years on.
In the football world during the year 2000, the following alleged racist incidents were reported:
Arsenal midfielder, Patrick Viera accused Lazio's Yugoslavian defender Sinisa Mihajlovic of "the worst abuse I have ever heard": "Mihajlovic called me a black monkey and when you are a player you are not happy to hear that. What is really surprising is that it has come from a player who is a foreigner in Italy." (The Telegraph)
The Independent reported that in the UK, racism was rife in amateur football. They suggested that black and Asian footballers were victims of both physical and verbal abuse.
The BBC reported that England Under-21 International Emile Heskey was subject to "monkey chants" during the Under-21 Euro 2000 play-off against Yugoslavia.
Gosh, thank god we've evolved in the past eight years and no longer have to learn of such vile, disgusting acts of human indignity which cause unneeded suffering and pain on the victims.
Well, newsflash! On December 29, 2017 the BBC reported that 17 year-old Rhian Brewster of Liverpool and England was racially targeted on FIVE occasions throughout Europe.
It turns out that we haven't come as far as most think.
What prompts a human being of going to any football match, let alone and Under-17 one, and subjecting a 'fellow' human being to a 90 minute assault on the colour of their skin? It's unexplainable and whomever participates or condones in such acts should be severely punished.
I remember being on a soccer pitch when I played University soccer in Virginia, USA. We were playing against a conference rival and an opposition player lashed out at me with racial abuse in the middle of the match. I stood in astonishment and didn't know what to do. My instinct was to call him out in front of both teams and the referee, which I did. Remarkably, the match wasn't stopped and not much attention was paid to my plea. Granted, I couldn't prove any wrongdoing as it was whispered into my ear after a fierce challenge but why would I falsely accuse someone of such a crime? - there was nothing for me to gain by expressing myself. The instance left me insulted and with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It became a fact to me - some do, and will always, judge by the colour of skin - I was only 19.
The reality is that we won't ever eradicate racism, it's too entrenched in history. However, with the courage that Rhian Brewster embodies in communicating wrongdoing despite the potential ramifications such as being known as 'that boy' rather than just a footballer, we can bind together and fight as one. Afterall, we are all part of one race, the human race.
Let's make 2018 the year of unity rather that segregation - Happy New Year.