Racism is Alive and Well in 'Progressive' Europe

Tottenham Hotspur sounds like a trendy bar on the upper east side, but it's actually an English soccer team. This week, Spurs traveled to Milan to take on Internazionale, a giant of the Italian league. While Inter put the hammer down on Spurs, beating them 4-1 in the match, its fans heaped racial abuse on the opposing players.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor and his team-mates were the victims of abuse by Inter fans waving an inflatable banana.

Inter were fined only £43,000 by Serie A officials after former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was racially abused during last month’s Milan derby and Villas-Boas pleaded with UEFA to hand out a more severe punishment this time.

Adebayor is from Togo. There are many reasons to dislike the talented striker -- he's temperamental, often disappears in big games, and has a habit of wasting clear chances to score. He has played for Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid before landing at Spurs, never really living up to his potential. His race, though, isn't a reason to abuse him. Ade got the last laugh in Milan by scoring Spurs' lone goal, which ended up handing them the victory in the tw0-game tie and sending them through over Inter into the next round of the Europa tournament. Not that anyone really cares much about the Europa tournament.

Such racial incidents and taunting happen during European sporting matches often and incidents seem to be on the rise. Not just in Milan, or Italy, but all over Europe.

Several English teams have been involved in European tournaments this years, including Arsenal, Chelsea, both Manchester teams, Newcastle and so forth, but Spurs fans and the team seem to attract more abuse than most other teams. Racism is at the root of it. Specifically, anti-Semitism. Several of its fans were attacked in a bar in Lyon, France earlier this year.

Eyewitnesses said the attackers smashed doors and threw cast iron chairs, wooden objects and a flare into The Smoking Dog pub in Lyon.

Up to 150 Spurs fans were drinking in the bar, popular among ex-pats in the French city, ahead of the Europa League match, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Spurs won the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

It is the second time that Tottenham fans have been targeted in apparent anti-Semitic attacks in the last three months.

In November, fans of the club, which has a traditionally strong Jewish following, were ambushed inside a pub in Rome on the eve of their game against Lazio (Italy).

Three were injured.