The racism punishment is frighteningly mild

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If sport is to mean anything with the fight against racism, there is no way out of punishing so it stings in case of abuse. Therefore, Aalesund’s handling of the racist chants against Amahl Pellegrino is shocking and disappointing.

“Exclusion from Color Line Stadium until the 2021 season”, was

from the management of AaFK, after they had identified a person who was behind the racist incitement against Pellegrino after the match against Kristiansund.

, claims club director Geir S. Vik in a brief press release. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find particular agreement between that statement and how mild the punishment actually became.

A deterrent function is generally a key reason why punishment is used as a tool. For an individual, the expected punishment should be perceived as so negative that one refrains from future actions. At the societal level, what is being called is that the threat of punishment contributes to most people refraining from doing something they should not.

When it comes to football and racism, of course, attitude work is important, but at the same time one does not escape the fact that action is needed when crossing borders that are not to be crossed. And here, unfortunately, Aalesund has appeared strangely gentle towards one of his own.

Where is the deterrent effect when it is possible to get away with such a slightly severe reaction?

What kind of signal effect does the outcome send?

No one knows what will happen to Norwegian football stands next year, but in the final analysis there will hardly be any real exclusion whatsoever for the supporter in question, if there remain strict restrictions due to the corona.

But completely independent of the virus situation, a more than one season’s exclusion from home games appears to be disproportionate to the seriousness of the case.

AaFK has not responded in detail beyond the press release, so we know little about the details behind the assessments. But a basis has been found for punishment for a condition that appears to be recognized, and then the measurement is something we have to discuss in detail.

It is not many months since Norwegian sports got one from a political standpoint, given that the fight against racism had not been high enough on the agenda. As a result, a ministry-appointed working group provided concrete input. It is only days since NIF launched a guide for the work against racism and discrimination in sports.

From football teams, we have over time seen various campaigns and nice words, and there is no reason to doubt that there is a genuine desire to get rid of a non-German. But it is now even the case that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, as the English say, and translated into this context, it means that how to handle the difficult cases is crucial for credibility.


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