If you haven’t heard of it by now, you are missing out. We are all familiar with the fact that each individual country participating in football has it’s own nickname. Brazil goes by names like Seleção or the Samba boys, Nigeria by Super Eagles, Italy by Azzurri, and so on.
Asia’s principal football governing body, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), as of a report that was released a month ago but bought to the attention on Saturday, while detailing UAE’s prospects on 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers, identified the country as “Sand Monkeys”.
A week ago, I had a discussion with a fellow blogger on one of his works on UAE football in which he had used the term referring to the Emirati team or “the Whites” (which is the actual moniker) in a similar manner. From my very own perspective, the very usage of the term was, in simple words, racist.
Little did I know that this would spring up in the manner it did this past weekend? That too from the AFC! A new web editor that was working on the piece committed the gaffe. An AFC’s spokesman called it a
“Genuine mistake inserted by a new website writer who had seen “Sand Monkeys” wrongly listed as the team’s nickname on its Wikipedia page”
– While explaining the incident to Associated Press.
Agreed, that the web editor was inexperienced and committed a mistake. But the reaction of AFC has been surprising. To me it seemed like they were quick to pass on the blame to the web editor. Definitely, this was not the right way to manage a PR blooper of such magnitude, which is currently hurting them.
“I personally am of the belief that this was a mistake. An unspeakable one, but nonetheless a mistake compounded by ignorance on behalf of the writer. A writer who has now shown to be incompetent and undeserving of their job.”
– Abdulla Taryam, an Emirati blogger, who was the first one to pick this up on Sports 360.
Few prominent people such as Ali Bin Al-Hussein, FIFA VP representing Asia and Yousuf Abdulla, secretary general of the UAEFA had voiced their concerns over this and the AFC is yet to respond.
With the UAE based Emirates being one of the top sponsors of AFC and it’s sanctioned tournaments, not only the officials but the country’s football fans equally will be looking forward to the sort of response the AFC would get back with.