As a Briton living in Spain I was somewhat astonished to read in the Guardian on Sunday a holier than thou piece accusing the Spanish of racism (yet again). This time the 'culprits' are the Spanish basketball team at the Beijing Olympics.
The Guardian article starts: "Spain's Basketball Federation has published a good luck advert for their men's team, the world champions, in which they stand pulling at the sides of their eyes in a slit-eyed gesture."
The Guardian "staff", who don't even have the courage to sign with their own names, then accuse the Spanish of being "irresponsible" and that the picture"could be interpreted so as to lead to accusations of racism." Possible, but only by a racist.
Of course, this leads us to question, exactly what the purpose of this article was. One reason could be to put the Chinese public against the Spanish basketball team who play the US tomorrow, and are serious challengers for the Olympic gold medal.
Sid Lowe, one of the Guardian's football journalists, who actually lives in Spain and should know better, then took up the torch on Monday:
"The advert features two large photographs, one of the men's basketball team, above, and one of the women's team. Both squads pose in full Olympic kit on a basketball court decorated with a picture of a Chinese dragon. Every single player appears pulling back the skin on either side of their eyes. The advert carries the symbol of the sport's governing body.
No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter"
I say should know better because, as a sports reporter for the Guardian living in Spain, he should have been aware, as the NYT was aware, that "Spain basketball has been sponsored by and wearing uniforms made by the Chinese company Li-Ning since 2002 and just signed an agreement to continue doing so through 2012. "
They quoted Calderón, the Spanish player in the Toronto Raptors as saying "“Whoever wants to interpret something different is totally confused.”
“It turns out that in the photo shoot for the submission of our team, one of our sponsors asked us to make, as a ‘wink’ to our participation in Beijing, an expression of Eastern eyes — we felt it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” Calderon says. “However, some European media have not looked on it well,” laments the linchpin of the national team.
Calderon denies any racist tinge in the gesture and expressed his “great respect for the East and its people.” The Extremaduran highlighted his great personal relationship with several Chinese friends by his team in the NBA, Toronto Raptors, and recalled that the sports brand Li Ning China outfits the Spanish team as one of its sponsors."
And, as the Spanish daily El País published yesterday, the Chinese Embassy in Madrid also said they didn't consider it offensive and were sure that no one in China would have been offended by the advert either: "ese gesto no lo entendemos como una ofensa".
The FEB (Spanish Basketball Federation) is now looking at taking legal action against the Guardian and Sid Lowe, and quite rightly too, as they consider that the only meaning of the gesture is one of "affection, friendliness and recognition" ("el único significado de dicho gesto es de cariño, simpatía y reconocimiento, que es lo que siente esta federación por el pueblo chino y su país.")
This is once again another gesture of British double standards, intending to foist onto others their puritanical and hypocritical morals, considering the deep racism at all levels of British society.
Sid Lowe is quite happy taking money from Spanish television (he is a football commentator for the Spansh TV La Sexta) while sticking the knife in the back of Spanish sport. One hopes they will send him packing.