Comment: It's always a potential banana skin but will we ever reach the stage where racism is such an absurdity that it is genuinely laughable?

How sad to see John Terry crying again, at the bitter end of yet another agonising battle in his tortuous Champions League war, especially given he has so much to smile about.

In yet another week when the world of sport seems to have descended into a chimpanzees’ tea party of racism, bananas both real and metaphorical flying in all directions, for once all England’s finest centre-half has to worry about is that he yet again won’t be playing in the Champions League final, or the World Cup.

It’s sad that Villarreal have decided not to name publicly the season-ticket holder, now banned for life, who threw a banana in the direction of Barcelona’s hungry mixed-race full-back Dani Alves, because there’s an octogenarian billionaire somewhere in Los Angeles who could do with a friend, and both men suddenly have quite a bit of free time on their hands.

Where do you start with the now very publicly disgraced 80-year-old LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling? Incredibly, it does appear to be true that a man who has owned a basketball team for 33 years, and has written no shortage of multimillion-dollar cheques to black athletes, really did object to his 31-year-old girlfriend – or whatever she really was – posing for a photograph with Magic Johnson, one of the all-time legends of the game, on account of him being one of the 88 per cent of NBA athletes who aren’t white.

To the average British sports fan this might seem like madness indeed. But on closer inspection there is a logic here. To us, sports team ownership is where billionaire businessmen squander their fortunes on a labour of hopeless love, abused all the while by the “real” fans for their occasional unwillingness to micturate their millions up the wall ever faster.

Stateside, it is not so. Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5m (£7.3m) in 1981, presided over 33 years of minimal investment, during which time they have been consistently derided as the worst franchise in all of American sport, but are now valued at a rather more handsome $575m (£340m).

An old Chris Rock joke springs to mind: “There are no wealthy black people in America. Shaq [O’Neal, retired NBA legend] is rich. The white guy who writes his cheque? He’s wealthy.”

It might be going too far to bring up Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, when he wondered how “any man should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces”. But the former NBA player and anti-racism campaigner John Amaechi has very damningly spoken of the league as possessing a “plantation mentality” – that the black players are the white owner’s slaves.

This all stands in marked contrast to the hero of the hour on this side of the Atlantic, Barça’s Alves, who barely broke stride as he went to take a corner and simply picked up the banana that had been thrown at him and devoured it in a single bite. Instantly on social media the world over Alves was described as having “eaten racism”. Seemingly every footballer – and then every politician – jumped directly on this more jovial anti-racism bandwagon, posting photographs of themselves posing with a banana, a craze everyone seems to think was started by Alves’ Brazilian team-mate Neymar, even though David Miliband got there years before.

It is hard to know what the correct response to all this is. Of course, what happened to Alves isn’t a joke, however lightly he took it, and Villarreal’s actions have been every bit as decisive as the NBA’s. So rightfully harsh is the retribution to any such incident that at least in attitude, if not in socio-economic reality, it can at times feel that we really do live in a post-racist world. Such events become almost laughable.

Enter Jeremy Clarkson. Already his clearly very inadvertent N-word has drawn comparisons – admittedly mainly from Piers Morgan – with Ron Atkinson. If ITV sacked Atkinson, how can the BBC keep Clarkson on, Morgan claims, even though Big Ron’s N-bomb was launched directly at Chelsea’s black centre-half Marcel Desailly, and loaded with the thermonuclear prefix “fucking lazy, thick”, which seems worse than accidentally mumbling it at a Toyota GT86. Even so, it appears the incident very nearly cost him his job.

I happened to go to a Dagenham & Redbridge game last week, in a former heartland of the BNP, and arrived five minutes late to find Chesterfield Town’s black full-back being booed every time he touched the ball. I feared the worst, but the explanation was entirely innocent. “You must be joking!” I was told. “How stupid do you think we are? Half our team’s black. We’re booing him because he’s crashed our lad into the stand and the nasty so-and-so [he actually called him something else] should have had a red.” Normality restored.

Very occasionally, it might be possible to feel just a little bit sorry for someone who probably doesn’t realise the full folly of his words. Earlier this week, South Africa’s Sports Minister made a “joke” about how Kenya “only sends swimmers to the Olympics to drown”. That Fikile Mbalula is black himself doesn’t make it any less crass.

He attempted to speak at an election rally the next day and had not bananas but stones thrown at him. Yet in what could scarcely be a more brilliantly damning indictment of a country’s sports minister, they all missed.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition