British press fury over Hamilton hate site

Lewis Hamilton was the target of racial abuse earlier this year

Lewis Hamilton was the target of racial abuse earlier this year

Several of the major British newspapers are reporting today about a Spanish-registered website set up to direct taunts at Lewis Hamilton. Here’s a typical example of the coverage from The Sun:

F1 ace Lewis Hamilton is facing another vile race hate campaign from Spanish yobs as he prepares to win the drivers’ title.

Racist abuse of Hamilton (and many other sporting personalities) on the Internet is, sadly, nothing new. So why has this website been singled out?

As anyone who’s searched for a Lewis Hamilton video on YouTube or put his name into a search engine will know, there is a huge amount of hate aimed at him from some quarters. Much of it comes from Fernando Alonso’s fans, responding to the rivalry between the two last year, and the conspiracy theory that McLaren impaired Alonso’s ability to contest Hamilton for the championship.

Over the winter racist taunting of Hamilton during a test at the Circuit de Catalunya and the suggestion that Hamilton had been the subject of racist abuse in Shanghai prompted the FIA to set up the ‘Everyrace’ campaign to condemn racism in motor sport. Since its inception, very little has been heard of it until now.

The cause celebre of the moment is a site called Pincha la Rueda de Hamilton (which, for obvious reasons, dignifying with a link) which means ‘Burst Hamilton’s tyre’. I think it’s pretty clear from the appearance of the site it’s intended as a joke – users are invited to place items on the track to give Hamilton a puncture and one of them is a porcupine. But the appalling and racist remarks directed against Hamilton, apparently with the approval of the site’s owners, have to be taken seriously.

The FIA has condemned the site:

The FIA’s position is very clear. Discrimination and prejudice can have no place in sport or society. Everyone in our sport will join us in condemning these abusive and hateful comments.

I support their position but I’m confused by their approach. Why single out this particular website and why now?

Presumably the FIA wants to use the high profile of the season finale to draw attention to its anti-racism campaign. It’s going to look rather cynical if they don’t issue similar denunciations in future to every other website where racist remarks are posted about Hamilton (or, for that matter, any other racing driver).

I also wondered if there might be something in the FIA’s choice of words: “Everyone in our sport will join us.” Alonso refused to criticise the racist abuse of Hamilton in February. Is the FIA trying to force him to do so this time? Or is this reading too much into it?

The press, of course, is delighted with the opportunity to play up Hamilton as the victim, and run a few holier-than-thou headlines about racism in another country, as if it never happens in Britain.

For the record, there is a strict policy against racism (and other forms of discrimination) on this site which has been enforced on a very small number of occasions, and not just regarding comments aimed at Hamiton.

More of the coverage

Update: The site has been closed down. More here.

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47 comments on British press fury over Hamilton hate site

  1. qazuhb said on 31st October 2008, 16:09

    I don’t know if I’m alone on this, i’m not endorsing the “attacks” but…come on…it’s not so tragic…
    I think racism has nothing to do here, they just can’t bear Lewis taking away the championship. Sorry if I’m offending someone, I just believe giving too much exposure to this kind of thing just helps the purpose of the perpetrators.

  2. craig said on 31st October 2008, 16:25

    Did Alonso refuse to condemn the racism or was he the only one refusing to condemn it? Don’t put words in his mouth. These two drivers have friction between them so let’s not add to it. Just let the FIA make their statement over this issue and let it be.

  3. Kanyima said on 31st October 2008, 17:06

    Craig, professional etiquette would require that Alonso condemn such a ghastly act regardless seeing his country is being shown in bad light. Would it hurt him if he did?

  4. Unfortunately there isn’t a single country on earth that doesn’t have some form of racism in it.

  5. Kanyima said on 31st October 2008, 17:20

    Rabi, so should that make it acceptable? What’s your point exactly?

  6. Gusto said on 31st October 2008, 18:11

    To even accept raciscm is digusting. To except it and maybe correct it in later days is ****** disgusting. I cannot describe my anger and disgust at the way Lewis is targeted for rasciam, is ******* disgusting but that wont pay the bills,so blah blah blah blah….. ad infernitum….. lord have mercy on your souls……

  7. Gusto said on 31st October 2008, 18:18

    To think Racism has a any part in FORMULA ONE, then may God strike me blind, Cos I Want No Part Of It, To think a Champion can be decided by He`s coulor is just………..Sad….

  8. craig said on 31st October 2008, 18:39

    Kanyima, what exactly did Alsono say and what most importantly what was the exact question asked of him? I don’t care to brand anyone with a label, guilty until proven innocent? Reminds me of when I in the military.

    To add, I hate seeing 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th hand accounts of quotes, just give us facts.

  9. Moskito said on 31st October 2008, 18:44

    Please read carefully:
    1. I am from Spain
    2. I have many black friends and can be not considered at all but a lover and admirer of black race. I have not made a poll, but for what I see everyday, inmense majority of spanish people are not racist or whatsoever, yeah I know what they sell you in football press and tabloids,… but that is just not true, period. They have to sell newspapers and entertain the masses. They do that here too, but I try to filter out what I read with my (small) brain.
    3. I do “hate” Hamilton in sports, his f1 personna, not the person, and I do because he is a strong rival to Alonso, and because of his big mouth, and I would if he was my hometown neighbour or my grandma’s boyfriend. But If i saw him tomorrow, as a person, I would not ask him for an autograph but would invite him to my home to drink one of my world renowned capuccinos. Maybe he is just a nice guy.
    4. But yes I do want him to crash his car on Sunday(no physical harm for him, of course) and looooose his second Championship,that would be fun, because I think he is a blabber mouth and a conceited man disguished in false smiles.
    5. This is just a sport, please have fun, dont hate anyone, be smart, and above all dont believe in anything that any media tries to sell you to have a strong headline.
    God bless the queen and may he find Lewis white smoking car amusing too on Sunday.
    cheers all

  10. beneboy said on 31st October 2008, 18:47

    Racism is nothing new in Spain or Britain.

    I have some Spanish friends and have spent some time with them in Madrid, Barcelona & Valencia over the past few years and I’ve got to say that they and their friends that I met found racism to be as disgusting as we all do.

    The first time some of them took me to a Real Madrid match was weird though, we have tried very hard in Britain to rid our stadia of racist abuse and for the most part have been very successful in doing so.

    To hear sections of Real Madrid’s own fans booing Roberto Carlos & Ronaldo as they came out onto the pitch just because they are black really shocked me.

    My friends made a point of telling me it was a few of the more “working class” fans that were still right wing & very racist.

    Things aren’t that much different in Britain though are they ?
    The main difference is that it is now socially unacceptable to be overtly racist in a public place or big events in Britain.
    Go out onto the streets and, as Nirupam found, there are sadly plenty of racists in Britain too who are not above shouting some racist abuse or worse.

    The hypocrisy here though is that our tabloids are the most racist publications on sale and have daily articles inciting hatred of immigrants, anyone with dark skin & Muslims in particular. For them to be playing the victim card on Lewis’s behalf (not at his request though) is laughable.

    It won’t be long before Lewis falls out of favour and is involved in a witch hunt similar to the one involving Russell Brand & Jonathan Ross at the moment.

    Then we’ll see the tabloids true colours and they will then notice the colour of Lewis’s skin.

    I can’t give my honest opinion of Max Mosley’s roll in this, Keith would have the lawyers on him in an instant.

    Let’s just say that I doubt his commitment to a future where people are judged by their words & deeds, not the colour of their skin or anything like that.

  11. Moskito said on 31st October 2008, 18:53

    You are right , beneboy. There is aaalways a stupid minority, sadly enough they are always the ones who stand out the crowd. And that happens everywhere.

    One last comment, that website was last year, after all taht happened, and was really a covered viral marketing experiment. It’s even closed by now.

  12. Mr Moskito I read ur post here i think i agree with you with just have fun
    I understand ur openion about Hamilton lose the race because me too hope Massa and kimi lose the race i am a big fan of lewis i really like the man and i hate Alonso and the Ferrari (not the drivers but the cars)
    we do really didn’t know those drivers in persons
    so the pre-judgment on them is not fare
    don’t look on how lewis is smile or how alonso is smile
    look how they drive and how they act in race
    may be this is the difference point and if someone don’t understand that good we will be in a big bad mistake

  13. beneboy said on 31st October 2008, 19:01

    So true Moskito, the vocal minority & the press always conspire to ruin it for the rest of us.

    I’ve been lucky to meet people from lots of different countries & have travelled to a few too and the overwhelming majority of those I’ve met have been really nice people & have welcomed me to their countries & sometimes even their homes.

    The Spanish people I’ve met are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I’ve even considered moving to Spain because it’s such a nice place to live.

  14. Beneboy:

    The main difference is that it is now socially unacceptable to be overtly racist in a public place or big events in Britain.

    Exactly right, however it is still a step in the right direction. And a step that Spain needs to take quickly. Monkey chants at football matches shows they’re about 20 years behind England, which is pretty embarrassing for them.

    I think quoting the Sun as an example of the coverage doesn’t do the story justice. That comic is aimed at and read by morons if they believe what’s in it half the time.

    The problem with the site in question is that it published all the hate filled comments (I’ve read some and they’re shocking) rather than moderating them so it deserves the condemnation – 27000 visitors makes it fairly popular right?

    Is it the only one of it’s kind? I don’t know. If not then the FIA needs to get busy for it’s campaign to be credible.

  15. beneboy said on 31st October 2008, 19:31

    I agree Owen, just think we have a long way to go before we start to condemn other nations for the acts of a minority of people.

    I’ve got some good friends I’ve grown up with whose grandparents came over here from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh in the 50’s & 60’s and some of the racist abuse we’ve had to endure would sicken you (so I won’t give you the full details).

    I will though say that I have been shouted at & on a couple of occasions physically threatened because I was out with them & I’m as white & British as you get.

    We would do better to work together, calmly & seriously with other nations rather than the mass hysteria & accusations you tend to get with the British press.

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