Monday, 3 June 2013

Football and racism

An interesting anecdote on how the world game has been involved in breaking down racism from the introduction to Johnny Warren's book "Sheilas, wogs & poofters":

The wog clubs didn't inflict the discrimination which was their struggle. For them football was always the currency. It didn't matter to them what someone looked like. It only mattered that they could play football. The late Charlie Perkins told the story that the Greek and Croatian clubs in Adelaide, and later the Pan Hellenic club in Sydney, were the first Australians to recognise him as a person to be treated equally. Charlie's football career commenced before the 1967 referendum moved to include Aborigines as part of the 'official' population of Australia. The axiom of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' rand true and as such, both Charlie Perkins and non-English speaking migrants shared a bond through the common enemy of racism. Charlie became hugely popular in the migrant football communities primarily because he was a good footballer. To be finally accepted as an equal was a power social panacea for Dr Perkins.

It's a phenomenal book (the title speaks to mainstream Australian attitudes towards "soccer" at the time of Warren's coming of age in the 1950s) and well worth a read for anyone interested in the evolution of the round ball game in Australia, as well as an examination of migration & racism.

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