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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jackie Robinson could relate to this

Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play Major League baseball, breaking in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
For Robinson, the first African-American to have the opportunity to participate in the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers, it was all about playing the game. But, he was hand-selected by President Branch Rickey and the Dodger organization (including part-owner and Vice President and General Counsel Walter O’Malley) to cross the precipitous color line. Robinson promised Rickey that he would not fight back, other than with his bat and glove, despite what teammates, competitors, fans, umpires, writers, broadcasters and hotel managers might have said or how they tried to bait him into reacting. Robinson agreed to take on this historic civil rights challenge and was uniquely qualified to succeed. When he crossed the white lines at the ballpark, Robinson tried to relax and focus on the game, not the constant catcalls. Off the field, the former UCLA four-sport star would also deal with Southern bigotry; anonymous death threats; racial slurs; sitting in the back of the bus; “no colored” served or housed here signs; and opponents who were out to injure him. Robinson, however, was bound and determined that he would perform to the highest level. That he did.
Robinson died in 1972. Were he alive today, Robinson undoubtedly would have applauded the actions of Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun during Wednesday night's Euro 2008 qualification game against Andorra in Holland, in which Israel won 4-1.

"Your country is a nation of killers and all the time there are only wars there," Andorra national soccer coach David Rodrigo allegedly told Benayoun during last night's game.
When Israel took a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game, Benayoun mocked the coach, putting two fingers up in his direction. The referee saw the gesture and promptly booked the Israeli playmaker.

Benayoun said that one of the Andorran players, Juli Fernandez, who scored a late consolation goal for his team, apologized on behalf of Rodrigo telling Benayoun, "I'm sorry for what my coach said." Benayoun also said that at the game's conclusion the referee approached him saying," I am sorry for booking you. It pains me to hear things like that from an international coach."

Chairman of the Israeli Football Association, Itche Menachem, said that the subject would be dealt with. "This is a very serious issue, and I will send a strong letter to UEFA on the matter," said Menachem. "There is no place in sport for comments like these from a national team's coach," he continued.
Given UEFA's past history, I doubt any letters will do any good. Can we really expect any better behavior from UEFA than we got from FIFA? I doubt it.

Previously at Israel Matzav:

FIFA considers action over air strike

FIFA to finance repairs of Gaza soccer field damaged by IAF

Egypt: Ghanian soccer player a Mossad agent


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