World Cup fever activates calls against racism

30 June 2018

For the first time in 36 years Peru qualified for the world’s biggest football event, and the country went wild. A reported 40,000 Peruvians made the trip to Russia, many from Peru but also from countries all over the world. They frequently travelled en famille, grandparents and babies in tow. They made a name for themselves for their happy and relentless chanting.

Although success on the pitch was not finally forthcoming, one of the most important things to emerge was the political stance against racism taken by some players. This made itself felt first through the official campaign against racism run by the government, but most importantly through the players’ own personal comments in the media. 

Edison Flores declared to the New York Times that class discrimination, as well as racial and gender discrimination was common in Peru where those in socially more privileged positions thought they could say and do as they pleased. This outspoken comment sent reverberations through the national press, leading the footballer to explain his point through twitter. He stated emphatically that he was against any kind of discrimination. 

Luis Advíncula (whose name in Latin literally means ‘in chains’) then angrily responded to a picture posted by the police capturing a giant doll of a drug trafficker; the policemen were represented as white, the criminal black. Why, he asked, is the delinquent always black? The police ended up issuing an apology. Sporting personalities, it seems, have an important contribution to make in the national debate over race.

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