The Black Lives Matter movement has forced South African sports to take a hard look at its post-apartheid history and the dissension between former teammates in a county still trying to heal from its racist past.
BLM has shined a light on how people of color are treated around the world, and in South Africa the focal point is the sports world.
The debate has led to the acknowledgement that opportunities have been scarce for Black players across a wide range of sports, despite the end of Apartheid, a system of racial segregation that existed in South African from 1948 until the earl 1990s.
The inequities between white and Black players has been a heated discussion that jeopardizes amicable relationships between current teammates as well as former teammates from an older generation, according to Reuters.
Showing support of BLM, South Africa’s World Cup-winning former rugby captain, Francois Pienaar took a knee before a cricket match in July, and was criticized by his former teammates who felt his position linked them to being in support of BLM as well.
According to a report in news24.com, one of Pienaar’s former teammates, Ollie Le Roux, retweeted a post that compared BLM to devil worshipping.
Public backlash against Pienaar’s decision to support BLM has included death threats. Pienaar, however, defended his position, stating that he was showing solidarity against “any form of racism and suppression.”
“I think a discussion must be held to fully understand the Black pain, but the other side of the coin is the farm murders, which has caused a lot of white pain,” Le Roux told Rapport, referring to the ongoing violent attacks against usually white-owned farms in South Africa.
When eight South African members of the premiere rugby team, the Sale Sharks wore ‘Rugby Against Racism’ t-shirts, but refused to take a knee before a game in England, the country’s minister of sport, Nathi Mthethwa called for action against those players.
“Racism is no longer in the statues books but some are practicing it covertly and we are saying that we will hunt them down because we know the pain that is caused by this pain called racism,” Mthethwa said in a statement.
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