Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fair Play: Cebu needs a new pitch

I COULDN’T believe it when someone in the grandstand screamed, “Go nigger go nigger go,” when Cebu Queen City United’s African player, Samson Olaniyi, got the ball in the PFF Smart Club championship match against Pachanga last Saturday at the Aboitiz Sports Field.

And that dolt was cheering for home team!
I shouted at him not to use that word, while I saw another fan scolding him.  He was with a kid, and when we transferred seats, near the Pachanga goal early in the second half, I still heard him say those words once.

I wanted to call him a racist bigot but the thing is, I don’t think he was. He probably thought it was a cool choice of words based on some of the songs and movies he has seen because he wasn’t saying those derogatory terms against the African players of the visiting team.

That incident had me thinking, instead of those “No to Racism” banner used in European football matches,
I think the UFL, the PFF and the CFA may have to use a more direct approach to educate fans, say a banner that says, “Don’t use the N word.”

I think we have a few countrymen who are not aware that the words they use are derogatory, and our practice of giving nicknames to friends--names that may sound racist to foreigners--may have influenced our moral standards.  I know someone named Boy Negro simply because he was the only dark-skinned guy among his siblings, while in Cebu, another friend who coaches one of the top youth teams is generally referred to by the color of his skin and has earned the nickname “Itom,” which is the Cebuano for black.

And, like all nicknames, it’s sometimes shortened too, “Tum.”

Is it a racial slur? No, it is not.  And one other thing, the word “Negro” is generally used by locals when referring to Africans and for some, that may be insensitive but it is what it is.

Funny thing is, minutes after telling that fan off not to use the word, “Nigger,” I was asked who scored for Cebu Queen City, and I had to stop myself from saying, “Ang negro,” and instead say, “Ang African.”

Anyway, I think it’s about time we learn to be aware about racial sensitivity, especially with the words we used, because football in this country is no longer limited to Filipinos.
Just imagine what would happen if the guy used those words in an AFC President’s Cup match involving Global FC.

Other than that incident, it was a great day for football in Cebu.  The stands were packed with fans who were treated to a great match.  There was also a group of fans who couldn’t sit in the stands but had gathered near the corner flag.

As for Cebu Queen City, I think that game highlighted their main problem—the lack of quality matches. 
Prior that game, they won all their Aboitiz Cup matches, scoring 22 goals and allowing none.

Against Pachanga, Cebu had its moments, but the defensive lapses were costly.  The visitors got their first goal on an open header, got the go ahead with a brilliantly struck free kick that went straight to the keeper and the insurance goal on another penalty.

The match, too, highlighted the need for the Aboitiz Group of companies to improve the field. No, they don’t have to put in a turf—they could if they wanted to and they can certainly afford it—but flattening
the field would be a huge help.

Football pitches—some with artificial turf—are being built in Manila left and right, I think it’s time for Cebu to have one.  And what better entity to lead in the construction of one than the company that is synonymous to Cebu football?

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