Fink: Racism? You’re having a laugh, UAE

ESPNSTAR.com columnist Jesse Fink is dismissive of suggestions by the United Arab Emirates FA that the Asian Football Confederation has "racist officials" in charge.

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By Jesse Fink

So according to a chap called Yousuf Abdulla from the United Arab Emirates Football Association, there are racist officials in the Asian Football Confederation.

He surmises this because some poor sod working on the AFC's website made the hardly unusual mistake of relying on something he or she had read on the web reference site Wikipedia, which allows anybody to edit entries. In this case, using the term "Sand Monkeys" to refer to the UAE football team, properly known as "The Whites".

It was a stupid mistake but pardonable. There are many variables in a desk editor's working day that can lead them to not apply normal standards of fact checking. Whoever made the error should not be losing their job over it or losing sleep. Everyone makes mistakes.

It's part of being human.

What's more concerning is Yousuf's ploy to make some political hay from it, calling it "evidence of disrespect" which "reveals the racist acts of some of the AFC officials from the eastern part of the continent towards the countries from the western region".

Come off it.

Having been a guest of the AFC at two of its annual awards nights in Kuala Lumpur, I was struck by the inclusiveness of the organisation to staff from all parts of the Asian football atlas. There was no obvious hostility to people from the western part of the confederation. If anything, the Arab countries, with their considerably greater financial clout and political muscle, lorded it over those from the east and no one, from either side, was complaining about Middle Eastern largesse.

What the affair underlines, though, is the need for the AFC to take stock of its identity and consider the possibility that it might just be too big and riven with geopolitical enmities to function at its potential.

I've argued before about the merits of splitting the AFC into two separate East Asian and West Asian confederations and can see no reason why the issue shouldn't be put back on the radar again.

Especially now when it is suffering from a power vacuum left by ostracised president Mohamed Bin Hammam and when scandal-plagued FIFA itself is weaker than it has ever been.

The sticking point will be World Cup spots, of course. But football is what the AFC should be squabbling about. Not red herrings like this "Sand Monkeys" nonsense.



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