It’s always interesting to see when someone fired for saying a racist comment on live television tries to defend his comment by being even more racist.
That’s where we find former Italian footballer and current television pundit Stefano Eranio, who was fired—sacked, if you will—from Italian television station RSI after his criticism of AS Roma defender Antonio Rüdiger during the Italian side’s 4-4 UEFA Champions League draw with Bayer Leverkusen this week.
Before we get to the racist defense, it’s worth hearing the initial racist comment. This, from 101 Great Goals, is the comment (in Italian) with translation below:
“Black players in the defensive line often make these mistakes because they’re not concentrated. They are powerful physically, but when it is time to think … they often make this type of error.”
That surely sounds to any reasonable mind like Eranio is not just calling out Rüdiger, but every black defender, for being stupid. That’s what he’s saying. And yet, via translation, the racism is by comparison marginal to, say, assaulting a fan in the stands like what happened in the Dynamo Kiev-Chelsea match this week.
Perhaps after seeing that, Eranio thought “all I did was call them all dumb, how am I the racist here?”
After being fired, Eranio spoke with Italian website TuttoMercatoWeb in an attempt to explain his remarks. Note to all pundits who are fired for racist remarks: do not attempt to explain them.
Via The Guardian (and via translation) here is Eranio’s attempt to explain.
“It’s disappointing that people have created all this controversy. I didn’t offend anyone and I don’t want people to make out as if I’m racist. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not.”
Stop. Eranio can blame people for creating this controversy for sure, but to say “I didn’t offend anyone” is ridiculous if he was fired for, say it with me, offensive comments. Rüdiger was one person who clearly should have been offended, and any reasonable mind would think all black players—or at the very least black defenders—would be offended too.
“It irritates me to be thrown to the wolves like this.”
What color are those wolves?
“The truth is I gave an incorrect opinion, in the sense that if I’d had to time to explain I would’ve said that I meant black players have never had a school of football in tactical terms similar to ours.”
Rüdiger was born in Berlin. His mother is from Sierra Leone and his father is German. He played in the youth ranks for several Bundesliga teams in his career, including a three-year run at Borussia Dortmund before starting his senior career at Stuttgart. He has played 39 times for Germany, including six appearances with the full national team—you know, the team that won the most recent World Cup, leading a program that over the last five years has been recognized as one of the most successful reboots of a national team in history.
Does Eranio feel the same about other German defenders like Mats Hummels or, say, Jérome Boateng? Were they not part of a school of football similar to the tactics of the Italians? (Insert flopping joke here.)
“Rüdiger read the situation badly because black players are not accustomed to paying attention to certain details. If they were as detail-oriented as us, then they’d dominate the spo[r]t, because they have everything in terms of strength and technique.”
That comment, given the context and the time Eranio said he didn’t have on live television, is worse than his original. His defense for racism is actually more racist.
“It was a misunderstanding, I don’t want to be made to appear racist. If they didn’t like my comment, they could’ve just told me and interrupted our collaboration. Why create all this controversy?”
If they thought I was being racist, why not cut off my microphone? Why let me hang myself and then fire me?
Surely, it was all a misunderstanding.