Brazilian players and officials did not miss an opportunity to condemn the Tartan Army – Scotland’s traveling support – for supposed racist chants during their 2-0 victory over the Scots in London’s Emirates Stadium. A row ignited by a banana thrown towards Neymar. The Brazilians were quick to portray the whole incident as something inherent to European culture.
Well, apparently the the Scottish FAs take accusations of racism very seriously, and London police identified the banana thrower as a German teenager. The Brazilians, so concerned with stereotypes, should have known better before pointing fingers at the Scots as a collective.
While racist culture definitely exists in European football, not all Europeans are identical. The Scottish record on racism is impeccable – currently and historically. Way back in 1881 Scotland were the first nation to field a black player in an international game, when Andrew Watson faced England.
By comparison, France and Wales would wait 50 years for such a breakthrough, Holland till 1960, Germany till 1974 and England till 1978. Italy and Spain did not field a black player before 1998 and 2001 respectively. A pattern quite consistent with attitudes in Spanish and Italian league stadiums.
Brazil’s record is slightly complex. In 1921 the Brazilian president forbade the national team from fielding black players in the Copa America. The legendary Arthur Friedenreich starred for the national team while obsessively hiding his half-black background.
Neymar, a teenager, may have been understandably upset from the situation. But the Brazilian team was guilty of blowing the affair out of proportion with righteous glee. If they are half-sincere with their concern of racism they now owe Scotland a big apology.