Red card for Austrian Euro 2008 ref18 July 2008

Speaking about his taste in music on Austrian radio last Sunday morning, Konrad Plautz, said he liked traditional music, “but not techno or hard rock, you know, N****-Musik [pej.: negro music]. The racist remark was reported by all the major Austrian dailies and Internet news sites.

In an initial response Gerhard Kapl, vice-president of the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) and chair of the Referees Committee, said it was necessary to distinguish between a genuine racist and someone like Konrad Plautz, who in my view made these remarks without thinking and in ignorance of the possible consequences.

Clear statement required

Asked to comment on Plautz's remarks, Michael Fanizadeh of FARE partner FairPlay-vidc told www.sportal.at:
The word N**** is derogatory and to be rejected because of its historical colonialist connotations.
Fanizadeh said referees, in particular, should function as role models and warned against trivialising the remarks, saying:
The Austrian FA, the Referees Committee and the Tyrolean FA need to issue a clear statement!

Awareness-raising fruitless

FairPlay ran intercultural awareness courses with referees from the Tyrolean FA as long ago as 1999. And as a top European referee Plautz has taken part in anti-racism activities organised by UEFA and FARE, such as the Unite Against Racism campaign at UEFA Euro 2008. Yet it would appear these measures, which were aimed at raising awareness for everyday discrimination and racism, have not had the desired effect as far as Plautz is concerned.

Bella B. Bitugu, FairPlay's Ghanaian-born coordinator in Tyrol and a former referee, expressed his disappointment:
I think what Konrad Plautz said is very regrettable. As a FIFA referee and member of the state parliament he is a role model. I now expect him to take concrete steps to prevent racism and also to go public with these measures.

Plautz (43) newly appointed ÖVP (Austrian People's Party) spokesperson for sport in Tyrol does not deny making the remarks, but said he was merely referring to loud techno music (“boom-boom”). He did admit, however, that his comments were “unfortunate”.