Yesterday the Competition Committee of the Spanish Football Federation decided to fine Luis Aragones, trainer of Spain’s national football team, 3000 euros for the racist comments he made about Tierry Henry in the lead up to the last match between Spain and England.
The fine will be considered by many to be a long overdue and surprisingly small recognition of the offensive and damaging nature of the Spanish trainer’s original comments which were recorded by Spanish television and broadcast around the world. Aragonés referred to Henry, the Arsenal team mate of Spanish footballer Reyes as “that black shit”. After the comments were aired on television, not only did Aragones refuse to apologise, saying that his remarks were intended to motivate Reyes and not to offend anyone, but he also referred to Reyes as a “gyspy”.
Days later, in a press conference preceding the Spain-England match, Aragones became irritated at questions posed by English reporters referring to the incident, and said “I know who is racist.
I remember the colonies. There are some who have run after them like wolves after prey,” referring to Britain’s past.
The Spanish Football Federation has always been very reluctant to punish Aragones for the “Caso Henry” as it is known here, and in the end they were forced to take action by the Anti-Violence Commission, so the lenient nature of the fine (3000 euros represents a day’s salary for Aragones) is hardly a surprise to people here.
It is however a big blow for the various groups that are emerging in Spain and at last starting to speak out against the growing racism on Spanish football terraces. Their cause and their voice would have been greatly helped had the Spanish Federation treated the behaviour of Luis Aragones with the severity many believe it deserved.