I’ve always found that you have to remember that people from different cultures very often don’t think the same as you or react to situations in the same way as you would expect. It’s a fairly typical error our Anglo-Saxon politicians make in their international relations. Look how we are trying to impose democracy in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, and failing miserably. People there just don’t get it – and as soon as we pull out, another strongman will take over, as that is what their culture demands. Seems sad (for us as we demand for them what we expect for ourselves), but really we shouldn’t expect other peoples demands to be similar to ours. They aren’t. It’s just wishful thinking on our part, and may even make matters worse in the long run as our meddling or perceived monetary motives alienate many cultures. I’ve gone off at a tangent a bit, but the point I am trying to make is this: things that matter to us Brits don’t necessarily matter to anyone else.
In football terms we have seen over the last few weeks a couple of incidents involving racism that the Brits find abhorrent. John Terry is facing legal proceedings over an alleged racist remark, and Luis Suarez is facing an 8 match ban for his abuse of Patrice Evra. Terry denies any wrongdoing, and you have to give him the benefit of the doubt as the images are inconclusive. Suarez has been found guilty of repeated racist abuse. He seems to be genuinely baffled at the ban, and I can understand why. He’s a latino, and from my experience in Spain, casual racism amongst the masses is almost normal. Many times have I stared wide eyed and shaken my head as hundreds of fellow supporters make monkey noises. No doubt some of them are deeply racist, but I mostly put it down to stupidity and copycat behavior – indeed it seems to be funny and amusing to most. It’s only a negro after all. It’s like going back to the early 70’s. Even this week watching Español play Barcelona anyone with ears could hear the ape noises coming from one end. All the more surprising as both teams have black players.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter commented that any on field racist abuse should be settled with a handshake between the players. The way he brushes off the issue as if totally unimportant really shocks us Brits. Then there is the corruption culture he is overseeing. If you think Qatar got the World Cup because of it’s football history, excellent tourism or fantastic pitch, you would be kidding yourself. The delegates were greased up and no doubt have it all stashed away out of sight. A World Cup in Qatar for goodness sake. The Brits just don’t get how they can be so bare faced about it. We demand his resignation – but stand alone as the rest of Europe or the world just don’t find it important. We don’t understand how such a clown can still rule at FIFA. But it’s easy to figure – other cultures just don’t think the same way as we do. Racism isn’t important. People take bribes. Big deal.
I have found this realization useful in the world of business. Never think your counterpart from another culture has the same aim or ethic or way to get things done as you do. In fact it is extremely unlikely.