Racism continues to dog European football

Photo via UK Daily Mail — Anton Ferdinand (left) and John Terry (right) face off

Chelsea captain John Terry was caught on tape yelling what appeared to be racist remarks at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Barclay’s Premier League match on October 23.

John Terry made the following statement about the accusations against him:

“I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him. I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term,” he said. “I’ve seen that there’s a lot of comments on the internet with regards to some video footage of me during the game. I’m disappointed that people have leapt to the wrong conclusions about the context of what I was seen to be saying to Anton Ferdinand. I would never say such a thing and I’m saddened that people would think so.”

Well John, the video bellow would prove otherwise:

Video via the Guardian.

Anton Ferdinand, who frankly doesn’t need to prove anything here because the video says it all, made the following statement:

“I have very strong feelings on the matter but in the interests of fairness and not wishing to prejudice what I am sure will be a very thorough inquiry by the FA, this will be my last comment on the subject until the inquiry is concluded.”

This kind of behavior is far too common in European football, but usually the racial slurs come from unruly fans. Incidents include racist chants and signs in Spain while Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o played for Barcelona and in Italy at Mario Balotelli (of Ghanian descent).

As an American, I believe the fact that there was never an equivalent movement in Europe to the Civil Rights movement in America, that there are still so many Europeans who consider screaming racial slurs acceptable behavior in their culture.

I don’t feel like I’m taking an unreasonable stance when I believe there needs to be harsher punishment against racist behavior in European football. The culture needs to change.

The president of FIFA (football’s governing body) Sepp Blatter said that on-pitch incidents should be solved on the pitch.

“There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct,” Blatter told CNN. “The one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands.”

Blatter has since apologized for his statement, but what an idiotic thing for Football’s most powerful leader to say. Clearly he meant it, and subsequently backtracked after he took heat from the like of David Beckham, Sol Campbell, Arsene Wenger and other prominent figures in the footballing world.

Thankfully, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are reviewing the incident (we’ll see if this take forever even though the video evidence is right in front of them). There needs to be an incentive that makes using racial slurs culturally unacceptable in Europe. If that means making an example of John Terry, then so be it.

France at The Oscars

There’s no bigger red-carpet event than The Oscars. The celebrities, the paparazzi, the gowns – it is the annual apex of all things Hollywood. However, this year, Hollywood should brace itself for a bit of a French invasion because some of the biggest films of 2011 feature this other red, white and blue country. Although the official nominees won’t be announced until January 24 (the Oscar ceremony is on February 26), the following four films are giving France a leading role on the predicted playbill.

The Artist Although the beautiful, black and white film is set in old Hollywood, the  star French director and actors are making this film one of the most talked about films of the year both in France and the U.S. Jean DuJardin (who is NOT dead, as rumors earlier this year suggested) won Best Actor at Cannes for his leading male role in the film, and the director, Michel Hazanavius, is married to the leading lady, Berenice Bejo. The film is about the decline of male film star in light of a rising actress, and even though it is silent, tout le monde is talking about The Artist.

Hugo Who would have thought that Martin Scorsese, the film king of intensely human drama, would ever produce something in animation? Well, he did, 3D and all, and it’s causing quite a stir. Based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the action-packed, fantastical film follows a young boy’s adventures through a train station in Paris in the 1930s. Big-name stars such as Jude Law and Sacha Baron Cohen have lent their voices to the project, and despite its PG, takeyourkidstothismovie rating, it has received rave reviews. The New York Times said, “There is something poignant and paradoxical about Mr. Scorsese’s honoring a film pioneer in digital (and in 3-D, no less), yet these moving pictures belong to the same land of dreams that Méliès once explored, left for a time and entered once again through the love of the audience.” Looks like Scorsese added another masterpiece to his list.

War Horse In Steven Spielberg’s newest flick, he combines a few of the most popular movie categories – horse movie, war drama and love story – into one super-film of epic proportions. A young man’s horse gets shipped to France in WWI, so he hops across the pond and enters the war-stricken territory, too. Apparently, it’s an incredibly compelling tale; you won’t be able to judge for yourself until the film hits theaters on Christmas Day.

Midnight in Paris Woody Allen likes to travel. He’s recently branched away from his usual setting of NYC and made films in Barcelona and London, but in his latest – and one of his all-time greatest – films, he focuses his lenses on the streets of Paris. With an all-star cast of Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kurt Fuller, the film jumps tirelessly between modern day Paris and the city as it was in the roaring 20s. The likes of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway come to life for Owen Wilson’s quirky, confused character, as he time travels back to the dimly lit bars and glamorous dance halls of Montmarte in its bohemian glory. As humorous as it is visually captivating, Paris has never performed better than under the direction of Woody.

Here’s a question to ponder: after all of the ill-feelings the U.S. has had toward France in recent years (for instance, the “Freedom Fries” debacle), what does it say about our culture that France is now making a big splash in one of our most popular forms of entertainment? Is popular culture becoming a means of diplomacy? Will Americans be forever fascinated by French culture?

Here’s a less thought-provoking question: which French-centric flick is worthy of a trophy? Only time will time. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy some of France’s finest on the big screen.

Having a ball at Fasching

Photo Credit: FestivalsInVienna.BlogSpot.Com

In an earlier post, I wrote about how carnival starts on November 11th, at 11:11 am. During Fasching, it is also ball season in Austria. This tradition dates back through Austrian History and the first ball, the Imperial Ball, takes place on New Years Eve at Hofburg Palace in Vienna.  There are hundreds of  glorious balls to choose from and to attend.  However, the end of February or beginning of March typically mark the end of the official season. A few balls are continued when the season is over, and the last ones are typically carnival balls.

The balls are usually opened by a Polonaise (a slow stately dance of Polish origin) and punctuated by speeches, a midnight Quadrille (a square dance performed by couples) and the crowning of the “belle of the ball.”

A very well known ball that takes place after the Imperial Ball is the Pharmacists’ ball, which is located at the same venue.  This ball is on January 21st this year and is sponsored by professionals.  According to Austria Information, other popular balls are also “held by professional groups, ranging from  confectioners, hunters and pharmacists to coffee house owners and engineers.”

A ball that may be appealing to college students is the Rudolfina Redoute.  It is a masquerade ball, where the participants wear a mask through the night in order to keep things interesting. This ball is held by a student fraternity and is also a ball that dates back to the very beginning of the ball tradition.

Photo Credit: MyMasqueradeBallMasks

If you are serious about attending a ball, you should take a few dance classes before hand.  The Walz is the most common dance for these events.  I would also suggest to book in advance, as tickets are bought on a frequent basis.