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Feb 4, 2008

Racing Fans in Spain Wear Blackface to Taunt Lewis Hamilton



Lewis Hamilton told today of his torment after being subjected to racist abuse as he tested his new Formula One car in Spain.

Fans at Barcelona's Montmelo circuit shouted "black s***", "black whore" and "f****** blacks" whenever the British driver, 23, made a pit stop.


Several others mocked him by wearing black make-up and wigs.

Hamilton, a hate figure in Spain due to his bitter rivalry last season with former double world champion Fernando Alonso, said today: "The truth is I feel quite sad.

Abused: Lewis Hamilton pictured during testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday
"I love this country, especially the city of Barcelona and this circuit, which is one of my three favourites.

"The Spanish people have always been very warm to me, and even though I thought something like this might happen, it wasn't pleasant ... But I'm still positive, as I still have great fans and friends in Spain.

"The only thing I have done is to try to do my best and try to win the championship.

"I never tried to harm Fernando (Alonso) deliberately, but the battle was very tough, and my image in Spain has been badly damaged."

Alonso, 26, from Asturias in northern Spain, was Hamilton's team-mate at McLaren but has since returned to Renault.

In the most closely-fought Formula One title in years, both eventually missed out in the last race to Kimi Raikkonen, who claimed the world title.

Hamilton, speaking to the Spanish motorsport website SportLifePress.com, added: "I have learned a lot this year and I hope I won't commit the same errors. We have a great car, a great team and the desire."


Formula One chiefs said today the fans' behaviour could lead to sanctions against two Spanish circuits. The Circuit de Catalunya is scheduled to stage the Spanish Grand Prix in May and Valencia the European Grand Prix for the first time three months later.

Officials warned both could be stripped of their events if there is a repeat of the abuse during pre-season tests which are scheduled to take place at Spanish circuits before next month's opening race.

Racism has plagued Spanish sport in recent years. The Spanish FA was fined £44,750 after England stars Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were subjected to monkey chants during a 2004 friendly.

Source: Daily Mail

13 comments:

Blackgirl On Mars said...

I'm really happy you posted this. So many people say that racism is dead...hmmmm,

the lab

Black Women in Europe said...

Hej LAB,

Unfortunately racism is not dead at all.

Exquisitely Black said...

I've also heard so many times that racism doesn't exist in Europe. Having never visited, I had to take that at face value, but seems the beast is still alive and well.

Black Women in Europe said...

I think racism exists just about everywhere. What happens to the US is unique to the US, and what happens in Europe seems to reflect what's unique about Europe.

But it all sucks when it happens.

MrsYFA said...

I recently reported on this same incident at thecoupmagazine.blogspot.com. It really is a shame that so much ignorance is still at large.

BRE said...

Spain like other European countries has serious problems with a rising wave of xenophobia and racism amongst teenages and young adults, and this disgusting incident is just one of many over the past several years. Fortunately these Formula One racing fans are neither representative of the racing sport or the vast majority of the warm and friendly Spanish people.

I personally have some very fond memories of my many visits and travels around Spain, spending my time almost exlusively amongst the Spanish people of the interior of the country vs. the residents of towns and cities along the Costa del Sol and other seaside tourists areas. A beautiful country Spain with very fine cuisine and drinking, festivals and outstanding architecture, museums and other cultural activities amongst an interesting people.

I doubt if anything will happen to the Formula 1 race organizers as mentioned in the news article, but the fans who can be identified in the photos should be arrested, questioned, publicly humiliated in the Spanish press, and barred from the sport for life. That may help to discourage other idiots from following in their footsteps.

Remember, Spain had one of the longest-running facist regimes of the 20th Century (Generalissimo Franco & Co). Then there was the occupation of the Iberian penninsula by North African "Moors" and Arabs for 600 years or so. Xenophobia and racism dead in Spain, are you kidding? Never, never in a million years.

Black Women in Europe said...

BRE, I mostly loved what I saw of Spain. It would be great if people who behaved like this were indeed arrested and questioned!

When you stay anonymous it's easier to act a fool.

BRE said...

Update on the Spanish Formula One blackface crisis:

The Independent (UK) newspaper published and article that includes statements from one of the F1 fans in blackface and Afro wig. Here is an excerpt:

The Independent - Feb 8, 2008

One of the Spanish Formula One fans who caused a diplomatic storm by "blacking up" to hurl insults at the British driver Lewis Hamilton has insisted: "I am not a racist."


Toni Calderon was one of four fans who wore dark curly wigs, black make-up and T-shirts with the words "Hamilton's family" at the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona during testing last weekend. As Hamilton walked from the McClaren team paddock to the circuit last Saturday, he faced more insults and racist abuse.

Gerry Sutcliffe, Britain's Sports minister, condemned the incidents as "sickening" and said he would make an official protest to his Spanish counterpart.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, has launched an investigation and could ban Spain from holding two Grands Prix in Barcelona and Valencia later this year.

Mr Calderon told the Spanish daily Publico: "We went last Sunday and we dressed up to celebrate Carnival. We wanted to give a touch of humour to Montmelo and have a laugh at the father of [Lewis] Hamilton. We didn't have the slightest intention to laugh at anyone, nor to laugh at the British driver for the colour of his skin.

"I am not a racist and it has made me ashamed to appear like that in the British press. Also, as I am in the middle of the photo [of four blacked up fans], I seem like the protagonist. This has angered me."

Mr Calderon said no one on security said a word when the group arrived at the circuit dressed as "Hamilton's family". "On the contrary, the people on security at the gate started laughing and let us pass," he said. "In fact half the people who saw us thought we were fans of Hamilton. Lots of people took pictures of us.

"If I had known that this was going to happen, I would never have dressed up, but I want to be very clear that we never intended to offend.

"We haven't done anything wrong. I would not have any problem to explain it personally to McClaren and Lewis who is a star."

End excerpt -

Well, I guess that solves that big misunderstanding problem, don't it?

Black Women in Europe said...

MrsYFA, what do you think of the statement of Toni Caulderon, one of the racing fans in Barcelona?

Thanks for the update Bill. It's great to hear from one of them, to get a glimpse into what he was thinking. But after reading what he said, I still don't know what Toni Caulderon was thinking when he donned blackface to be part of the Hamilton family.

Me said...

Hi All,

I am a Black woman married to a Spaniard. As you can imagine my experiences with race and racism in Spain have been both enlightening and maddening.

I actually just wrote a book about it called, Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. It will be released by Atria Books on March 4.

Like Lewis Hamilton, I won't condemn the entire country for the acts of a few...but it still makes me mad!

Black Women in Europe said...

How long have you lived in Spain? be sure to join the BWIE social network:: http://blackwomenineurope.ning.com and be sure to send your book information ( Congrats!) to the Women of the African Diaspora website for its Authors section: http://www.aesn.eu/bwie

SolShine7 said...

What a shame. Those costumes are offensive and totally uncalled for.

Thanks for sharing the news. I'll pass it on!!!

Black Women in Europe said...

Hej SolShine7,

Thanks for sharing the information with others.

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