Where the support and jokes end and abuse and racism begin ?

The racism and improper behaviour of fans in Formula 1 is back in the news. Bernie Ecclestone believes that the events earlier this year during Barcelona test were more joke than racist abuse. Jaime Martin, F1 editor of Spanish newspaper Marca accepts they may have been racist “but if Lewis was bald, the insults would have related to his baldness.” Ecclestone also considers the booing aimed at Hamilton in Brazil last weekend or back in Valencia during European GP as normal expressions of allegiance by home fans:

“In Spain people supported Fernando Alonso and in Brazil they supported Felipe Massa. People are entitled to support who they want to support. When was (Hamilton) insulted? Do you remember the Ferrari guys that wore the red wigs? People are expressing themselves.”


I think these opinions can be summed up be Ecclestone’s words:

“People look and read things into something that is not there.”

Is Bernie right or is he wrong ?

Understandably, Lewis Hamilton did not find the abuse aimed at him earlier this year in Barcelona funny. It is hard to blame him. But many people get easily offended also by perfectly innocent jokes that they take personally. So when the problem lies with the “joker” and when with the target of the joke ?

People regularly made fun of David Coulthard’s slightly bigger and more square than usual jaw. Just google “David Coulthard jaw” and see. Was it funny or was it abuse ?

Football fans boo when the oposing team attacks or takes a penalty. Is that considered supporting the home team or abusing the visitors ?

When Ferrari crew started to celebrate when hamilton spun in Japan following the collision with Massa was that celebration of Massa getting ahead of his title rival or happines over Hamilton dropping to the back ?

When Ferrari and Massa’s family started to celebrate what they thought was the 2008 drivers title, was it celebration of Massa winning the title or Hamilton loosing out to Vettel ?

How far are fans and supporters allowed to go ? What is proper and what is not ? What is funny and what is abusive ? Where is the line that should not be crossed ?

I would be happy to hear some opinions. But please, if you decide to contribute to the debate, keep it civilized.

16 Comments Post a Comment
  1. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    It seems that Bernie remained simply neutral in that affair, his mentality simply said t him that this kind of mocking at somebody always has been and will be.

    In F1 it has happened uncountable times, even if the believe is that this is a sport for snooty people, there always have been that kind of pressure to the drivers coming from the supporters, and that’s their only role in that game :-) Supporters go to the circuits to help their own team showing flags, painting their faces, screaming, horning…… And try to create pressure over the rest whistling them, with boos or whatever. That’s it for me :-)
    What the FIA did early in this season is again to show their dictatorship power, does anybody doubt it??? They placed their anti-racism van or closed access to Hamilton just to create this feeling that they’re still the one that rocks the house. No need to say that I’ve seen it from close and lived some special controls through gate accesses to the circuit in Barcelona. It’s OK to try to protect this golden boy, who actually won a championship and still nobody said that he didn’t deserve it by his skin color, but I personally praised the success of black-skinned people, that’s important for them because he’s the first to achieve it (even if he is mixed race kind of person).

    But I think joking is just part of the game between liking somebody and not, when someone did something which you don’t like personally you begin to feel irritated, that’s usual. But joking is that typical way to express feelings with a touch of black-humor, doing no other harm than to the self-esteem of somebody else.
    Anyway, I think that there are many degrees in each kind of joke, even racist jokes, and also many degrees of tolerance. That’s the balance between like and dislike, smile and anger.

    But at the end I wish to finish with a nice joke: “The best weapon of Lewis Hamilton in the Singapore GP is his color, because he can camouflage himself in the darkness”.

    Kotenoks last blog post..ex-race-marshal

  2. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    The Max Mosley incident was sure to bring racism comments. The actions of F1 and FIA in regards to McLaren and Ferrari reek of favortism to Ferrari. I have assumed it was due to the feelings of the powers that be that Ferrari winning is good for F1, and never considered it racism against Hamilton.

    I find it hard to believe that the actions in Brazil were anything but people cheering for the hometown driver and their favorite team. I am not familiar with the Barcelona events that have raised the spector of racism.

    And I hope that I am correct in that F1 favors Ferrari, and is being tough on McLaren as a team, and not its black driver. I, as a fan, will not tolerate racism by a sports leaders, and will stop supporting and watching F1 if racisim was the factor!

  3. Sergio MNo Gravatar says:

    Well, if we are all the same: Why some people don’t stop to talk about “the first black driver” or “the first black champion”? It’s ridiculous It’s just another driver.

    In Spain and Brazil there’re people that don’t understand the classic “f1 spirit” between drivers and fans. That fantastic cordiality. They think this is like football: you can only love one driver, and this driver must share with you the nationality (the spanish media encorauge it).

    In the case of Spain (my country), really I don’t think this is a racist country. There are a big migration movement since years ago (Marocco, Romania, Latin-America, China) and there’re not great problems attributable to racism, racist violence, etc.. The comments in the brit press about this “racist country” were offensive. It’s not true. Here are the same number of stupids an racist than other european countries. Simply, there are fans that doesn’t know to express their disagree about Hamilton without jokes. If Hamilton were spanish, they’d love him hehehe

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      “Well, if we are all the same: Why some people don’t stop to talk about “the first black driver” or “the first black champion”? It’s ridiculous It’s just another driver.”

      I think you are making good point here. the race or skin color should not even be the issue in the first place but yet some people felt it is important to make it an issue.

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Yeah, good hit with that comment :-) That’s more talk about racism in the world. There is not big difference between dark-skinned man or white-skinned man (well, obviously the same I would say about woman). Of course they’re a person like you and me, some one with different abilities and habits and that’s all we should say.
      People who’s telling about Hamilton’s color (which isn’t black as for me looks as a tasty milk chocolate HEHE), is just obviously that somebody is noticing that this is unusual to see the triumph of a dark-skinned person. And we should ask ourselves: “why it seems so unusual to us?”.

      Topic about women is really a serious talk, I feel myself in a country of madman when hearing news every day, but it’s extreme situation in some foreign countries which are ruled by the “men”, I ignore the hardships the women live without any rights in their life.

      PD: Why you don’t joint the F1Wolf Club community? We would enjoy your presence there :-)

      Kotenoks last blog post..ex-race-marshal

  4. Sergio MNo Gravatar says:

    I forgot to talk about Bahrein or Dubai, countries where women are discriminated. FIA is approaching to countries where the basic rights of women are not protected. Why anyone said something about?!?! I think that’s worse than four idiots doing nonsense

  5. osamaNo Gravatar says:

    To Sergio,

    you are wrong my friend about Bahrain and Dubai, I m from Bahrain but currently I live in London, Bahrain and Dubai are very liberated and civilized countries where women are free to go out, free to do whatever they want, free to wear whatever they want, and free to go out with whoever they love. In Bahrain, we have women ambassadors to the U.S. and France, we have a woman MP, and we have a woman minister….the same applies to Dubai too.

    both my country and Dubai have booming tourism and economies, we have a great nightlife in Bahrain (YES ALCOHOL IS ALLOWED IN BAHRAIN AND DUBAI!), we have many nice places and beaches, and people are very liberated, tolerant, and welcoming (just in case you think that we are a bunch of ignorant people who live in the desert)..

    Your opinion is based on a false generalization and stereotyping, not all counties in the Middle East are the same my friend, your comments may be true if they are applied on some other countries but not Bahrain and Dubai.
    To be honest, I was offended by your comments about my country, but I do not blame you when the media here in the UK and the western world give a wrong picture about the Middle East and put all these countries in one giant stereotyped picture.
    PLEASE try to know more about any culture/country/people before you spell out false judgments

    It’s not personal mate, but how would you feel when someone says something about your country and you know that is not the truth at all??!!!

    I would welcome you to know more about Dubai and Bahrain, I have listed some website below just in case you don’t know where start from,
    All the best mate!!

    http://www.burjdubai.com/
    http://www.bahrain.com/
    http://www.burj-al-arab.com/
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5060710.stm
    http://middleeast.about.com/b/2008/05/30/bahrain-names-jewish-woman-ambassador-to-the-us.htm
    http://www.clickbahrain.com/clickbahrain_nightlife.asp
    http://www.nightlifeinbahrain.com/nightlife/site2.html
    http://www.dubaicity.com/Dubai-Nightlife.htm
    http://www.dubai.com/

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      sorry for the comment not appearing immediatelly. because of the links in the comment it went to the spam folder, but all fixed now

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Tell us about how is seen the occidental life in your home country? It would be another interesting point of view :-)

      Maybe in Spain we see that specific stereotypes because we have lots of illegal immigration from Maghribian people day after day (from all over the world, but specially these diasporas), and their situation is quite extreme.
      We know Dubai or Bahrain are wealthy countries, we know they rule powerful economy and mostly the citizens from these countries double the incomes from an average European. They are located in the Middle East, which give us thoughts that these countries live in the traditions of the Islam. Anyway, this isn’t an explain just to say that I shouldn’t be interested in learn more about these countries, I’ll look these links to find something new and I’ll enjoy a virtual visit through the great world with Google Earth being helped with the support of Panoramio :-)

      Kotenoks last blog post..ex-race-marshal

      • osamaNo Gravatar says:

        to sergio,
        thanks for understanding, but jsut want to note that not all of us are wealthy mate! :D

        i agree with u that the media here gives one general wrong picture of us in the middle east, they look at countries like iran and think that everyone else around it is the same

        i just knew that u r from spain, i m a big fan of alonso since 2003, and still regard him as the best :)
        u r more than welcome to learn more about bahrain or any other arab country from me with total honesty and prosperity.

        tc

  6. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    An excellent point Sergio. No one seems to want to press that issue against the countries that support denying the most basic rights to women, because most of those countries control the all powerful oil.

    There are even worse atrocities in Africa where genocide is being conducted on mass scales.

    Racism, Sexism, and other Prejudices are prevalent all over the world. Every step taken to reduce them is one step closer to solving all of them.

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Well, from your words: “every step taken to reduce them is one step closer to solving all of them”. It’s a good resume, but should be clear that these aren’t matters of charity, the need of being tolerant and respect to each individual.

      So should we say that anybody joking at someone’s color should just be banned somehow??? This would be an important link part of this chain. But I still find that sometimes the ban is applied too hardly and without measures, just suppressing the initial happening. That’s my feelings about what happened in the F1 world championship.

      Kotenoks last blog post..ex-race-marshal

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