TAIPEI - Broadcasters reporting on the Olympic and Asian Football Confederation qualifying match between Taiwan and host Myanmar were accused of using racial slurs in game coverage on Friday.
In the match between host Myanmar and Taiwan, a female broadcaster representing the organisation Freedom Sports directed several racist comments toward the Myanmar team. At one point she was quoted as saying "not sure what country this is," and "it seems like they spend all day running in the grassland and digging the ground to eat sweet potatoes."
Myanmar Defeated Taiwan 3-0.
Freedom Sports responded to the criticism saying that they are a private outfit with no connection to any other organisation. The broadcast was not officially sanctioned by the Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA). It was carried on YouTube for the first half of the game, and after technical glitches consisted of text-based coverage for the remainder.
Freedom Sports describes itself on its YouTube channel as an "a professional production and broadcast team with innovative and thinking planning" while describing its reporting as "boils your blood and inspires your soul."
"They were just a few jokes and not meant to be disparaging," Freedom Sports said.
In a previous game, reporters from Freedom Sports characterized members of the Australian national team as being short in stature like natto beans. They joked that "hopefully their fans aren't watching our broadcast, but it shouldn't matter since they wouldn't be able to understand."
CFTA said that while it has regularly outsourced the recording of matches to Freedom Sports, it said it had no knowledge of the latter organisation's recent YouTube broadcast. CFTA reported that so far no other local television stations have agreed to take up broadcasting subsequent qualifying matches.
No Laughing Matter
Though Friday's match was not a sanctioned broadcast, racism in football, both on and off the field, has been tackled worldwide under FIFA's no tolerance policy with mixed results.
Recently in Japan, after fans attached a discriminatory banner to the entrance of a Japan Professional Football League match in March 2014, officials penalized organizers by withholding public attendance in a subsequent match.
In January 2014, the Hong Kong Football Association was fined for failing to stop racial discrimination against Filipino fans by Hong Kong fans during a friendly match.