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. Roger,

    I have some Spanish friends, and their attitude is very like yours: “Hey, don’t worry about, it is not a big deal…”

    Even Alonso has acting in the same mood after Barcelona abuses.

    I think that is the point what most people have concerns, the lenience with those peoples. Alonso should have come to TV and be hard and condemn all of them and made them feel ashamed of their acts. He is a hero in Spain and even outside Spain, the man is model to be fallowed.

    I think any Spanish people should condemn them in the same mood when state public concerns about racism and not be indulgent as I used to see.

    Moskito,

    I think is very contradictory your statement about “hate Lewis in sport his persona but do not hate him as person”. It is mystery for me how you can separate this two characters when actually you don’t have access to the other one.

    Isn´t this kind of mess, as you has shown here, that the Spanish crowd is doing in the last months, confounding the person with the persona?

  2. Gusto said on 31st October 2008, 20:23

    1715 GMT-Itv coverage from the crowd…If that aint a Nazi salute as Lewis drives by then Iam…………..sick to death with it……….listening to Ron`s Piece J,M Jarre……suppose it should be `September` then I woundn`t be so ashamed to be a Human,( 1715 GMT Grandstand G, turn 4)

  3. Gusto said on 31st October 2008, 20:25

    Lewis is champ anyway, so what does sunday mean?

  4. YES LEWIS IS THE CHAMP

  5. unless something bad is happened for him (god bliss him)
    and i hope we see a nice race,
    hope all drivers be OK and let the best win

  6. This site is running since Hungary 2007…it’s just a game, and we don’t like Ham because his attitude, he could be red, white or green, would be the same.

  7. David - BR said on 31st October 2008, 21:40

    In fairness to Alonso, he has condemned in principle the kind of racism shown on the site (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/71880):

    Spain’s two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who said he had not heard about the website, also condemned the racist fans.

    “If it is true then it is not possible (acceptable),” Alonso said. “In these days, in 2008, we cannot have these kind of people in our world. It is not only F1, it is not only sport, it is life as well. This is not possible (acceptable) in our days.”

    Beneboy I agree totally about the hypocrisy of the UK tabloid press and about racism in British sport too. However that’s no reason not to confront racist behaviour and comments whoever its from.

  8. David - BR said on 31st October 2008, 21:42

    EGC

    Sorry but your comment is wrong. The site has many racist and abusive comments, far from being a ‘game.’ And you cannot speak for a ‘we’ here unless your speaking for these racists too. Are you?

  9. Snoopy said on 1st November 2008, 0:00

    Spanish do not like Hamilton but why call them racist? Why everytime when somebody start say some bad about Hamilton it is racist? Because Racist card is allways easiest to use.
    I do not like racist comments but i also do not like use “you are racist” card. We ave some experience about that in Australia. Cricket between India And Australia. It was allmost war in last year. And all because some indians called Symonds (australian player with dark skin) monkey. RACISt was all around in paper Australia and nobody did not noticed that australians called indians in bad names as well.
    And when it goes to british they are very very pasion for their sport. There was diplomatic crises between Aussie and England years ago and all because cricket.

    And how about Ice hockey?? Geesh. Between Sweden and Finland. They use all possible bad names what they can imagine and thats a lot i can tell. And nobody is banned or newspapers do not write about it.

    My point is that calling bad names has always been in sport and allways will be. Because Hamiltons skin is dark do not mean that they call him in bad names because that. Obviously spanish do not like him because what happened last season with Alonso. And that is nothing to do with skin colour.

    Or do that means that every other people can be called what every names but not any person whose skin is dark?

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st November 2008, 0:30

    Snoopy – I do think that sometimes, some people, use ‘racism’ to explain criticism of Hamilton when it does not apply. But if you look at some of the things written on this particular website (assuming the translations I’ve read are accurate), there is no question the terms chosen are racist.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st November 2008, 0:38

    The site has now been closed down (see update above). A story on the Guardian’s website gives more information:

    A spokesman in the company’s New York office said it did not know why the site, which was designed and owned by its interactive marketing branch in Spain, had not been monitored to stop racists using it to abuse Hamilton. “The site has been taken down,” said TBWA spokesman Jeremy Miller. “We have no other official comment to make at the moment.” The firm’s clients in Spain include McDonald’s, Nivea, Clinique, Häagan-Dazs ice cream and Spain’s state-owned Renfe rail operator.

  12. Gusto said on 1st November 2008, 1:11

    After all that has happened, then even to mention racism, makes me feel sick to the stomach, there are not words to describe how angry and frustrated I feel to F1, what ever happens Sunday I feel hard pressed to feel anything but contempt for F1, after 25 years of nothing but Love for F1, I now feel disgusted with it all and hope the whole thing dies in the credit crunch.

  13. michael counsell said on 1st November 2008, 10:54

    Lets not condemn Spain as a country as that is a form of racism as well but at the same time what has been going on is not acceptable. The FIA are trying to do something but how can they change bigoted opinions. Its a question which faces everyone as proably everyone knows a racist who will stubbonly refuse to see reason.

  14. @Kanyima: I never said it was acceptable, I said “Unfortunately there isn’t a single country on earth that doesn’t have some form of racism in it.”

    Which means that no matter how much anti-racism campaigning you do it will never eliminate racism which is a sad thing because of how vile it is. I don’t stand for it I condone it, but I’m not going to act suprised when it happens. If we weren’t a prejiduce race we wouldn’t have ever had any wars, backstabbing or evil floating about the world like we do have now.

  15. Good job! THANKS! You guys do a great website, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. best regards,

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