Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kadiev & Sadayev: No to racism in football (and just about everywhere else)

When I read about Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem signing of two Muslim football players, my first thought was this is going to explode. And true enough it has and we have not seen the end of it.

Gabriel Kadiev and Zaur Sadayev were signed from FC Terek Grozny and that sparked a violent reaction from hardcore fans who want to keep the club pure and free of any Arabs and Muslims. It is suspected that these fans even went to the extent of burning down one of the club’s offices.

I can certainly understand Jewish sentiment towards the Arabs and Muslims as Israel has constantly faced oppression and attacks since their independence after World War II but one cannot generalize everyone. I am sure that both Kadiev and Sadayev have thought long and hard about playing in Israel and for a club with known rightists as fans.

What if it’s the same for Israelis in Europe? What if Israeli Yossi Benayoun is disallowed to play for clubs because of who he is? It’s insane, isn’t it?

The other week, I was informed by a UFL club coach that one player said that for him to sign with his team he would have to remove the Africans on them. As good as the player was, the coach and the team voted not to add him however talented he may be.

Filipinos, like the Israelis cannot afford to be racists. We of all people who know what it is like to be put in derogatory terms and to be the subject of racial abuse. I love how Philippine football has been more cosmopolitan; more homogenous. The nature of the local game is in the process of being defined for the next generation. We should be careful of what we will bequeath to those who come after us.

I hope for the success of Kadiev and Sadayev with Beitar Jerusalem. It is a courageous act to make knowing what they are stepping into. I hope the fans realize that the name of the club is more important that the ethnicity of the players.

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