Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Response to Racist Incident Augments Harm the Incident Caused

Listen to this story

The recent response by the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a player suspended for a racial incident is at the core of why racism remains prevalent in soccer.

Their statement reads in part:

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have been and always will be an organization that has a zero-tolerance policy against racism of any kind. We take the allegations against Laurence Wyke very seriously which is why we are appealing this suspension.

The USL has rushed to a conclusion and issued a statement without providing us the full report. This decision to suspend Laurence Wyke for an unprecedented 12 games, double the amount of any previous suspension of this kind, is unbecoming of the league and sets a dangerous standard for all players.

Tampa Bay’s disregard for the severity of Wyke’s actions is disappointing to players and supporters of color, many of whom will be triggered by the club’s insensitive response to the league’s 12-game suspension. Incidents involving racism in soccer present discomfort for a league lacking black representation in key positions.

Yet this lack of representation is a key element that fuels an organizational culture of whiteness.

It is only in this type of organizational culture that you can mention a zero-tolerance policy for racism while questioning the length and nature of the suspension.

What is the acceptable suspension for showing a lack of humanity towards a fellow competitor? What exactly does zero tolerance mean to the United Soccer League?

Based upon the original statement, it means racism is bad but not bad enough for a 12-game suspension.

We can’t stamp out racism in the sport of soccer by being tepid with consequences. Education and room to grow are both needed, but repercussions must be severe.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

This content has been brought to you by First and Pen in partnership with TheHub.News. First and Pen “amplifies local sports stories from voices of color to the national conscience…”

Follow @FirstandPen on Twitter.

You May Also Like