Racism or not? Ryan Williams' nose-pinching gesture towards Aibanbha Dohling raises questions
Ryan Williams' nose-pinching gesture towards Aibanbha Dohling in the opening game of ISL season ten sparked controversy, leaving Kerala Blasters fans questioning the BFC player's intent.
Amid a high-voltage kick-off of Indian Super League season 10 between Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC, a controversy broke out.
The game was highly intense, with Kerala Blasters taking a 2-0 lead, with an own goal from Kesia Veendorp giving the host a lead and Adrian Luna capitalising on Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's mistake for the second.
With the match finely poised in front of a vibrant yellow and blue Kochi crowd, an unwarranted incident took place that nearly superseded the classic game when Aibanbha Dohling of Kerala Blasters and Ryan Williams of Bengaluru FC engaged in a heated argument. And Williams pinched his nose and asked Aiban to move away.
Now the KBFC Manjappada, the official fan club of the Blasters, have come forward with a call for action against Ryan Williams for his disgraceful gesture.
New can of worms?
The incident has sparked a debate: was it racism or just a heated exchange? The answer is not straightforward, as such gestures can be interpreted in different ways. In the past, there have been instances of players receiving bans for similar nose-pinching gestures.
One such incident happened in 2007 when former Liverpool and Aston Villa player Milan Baros pinched his nose in front of Stade Rennes’s Cameroon-born midfielder Stephane M'Bia during a match. Baros also waved his hand as if repelling an offensive odour. While he faced accusations of racism, the final verdict determined that it wasn't a racist gesture. Nonetheless, he was handed a three-match ban.
Racism: Beyond football
On the flip side, racist comments associating Indians with unpleasant odours, like the notion that "Indians stink" or that "curry stinks," have regrettably proliferated on social media platforms and in some European countries. Within football platforms, this form of racism towards Indians has sadly become vogue.
Williams' gesture in the ISL 2023-24 opening clash is undoubtedly offensive and punishable, but it should not be hastily labelled as a racist act. The video of the incident has gone viral on social media. A comprehensive analysis, including audio, of the incident will provide further clarity. If Kerala Blasters decides to file an official complaint, a thorough investigation will shed more light on the incident.
But the golden rule of sports should be followed by all athletes: when emotions run high on the field, it is essential that players should carefully consider all angles before making any such offensive gestures.