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Basketball racism draws slap on wrist

A display of racism during a qualifying match in last season’s basketball league resulted in little more than raised eyebrows, as no disciplinary action was taken by the Finnish Basketball Association.

Apinakyltti Loimaan katsomossa
Image: Teppo Hirstiö

During a match last season between Loimaa Bisons and Tampere Pyrintö, a young male spectator was seen holding a sign with a drawing of a monkey and a banana, with the word “monkey” written in large capitals.

The Finnish Basketball Association deemed that it did not warrant any sanctions or further action.

According to information received by the Association, the sign was given to the young man, whose identity was known to officials.

Association head Vesa Wallden said that the matter had been dealt with.

“We investigated the matter thoroughly last spring and the parties received a warning. As far as we are concerned that is the end of the matter,” he told Yle.

However, Kristiina Heinonen, who handles international issues for the Finnish Sport Federation, felt that the reaction of the sport’s governing body was too lax.

She told Yle that as long as officials could identify the persons behind the act, they should have applied strong sanctions, such as a ban.

“The Association should publicise these cases and send a message that this kind of thing is not acceptable under any circumstances,” she added.

The Federation itself emphasises the rules of fair play. However in many cases its member organisations do not have clear rules or guidelines that penalise racist acts.

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