Swift move against racism welcomed

It's a no-brainer that racism should not be tolerated in sport, or any other part of society.

The outcry against Los Angeles Clippers basketball owner Donald Sterling after his racist rant was proof of that. It shows how far we've come in our revulsion of racism. Conversely, his words demonstrate how far some still have to go to learn that it's not acceptable. The 80-year-old will not be alone in his views - it's just that he got caught.

Despite showering his 31 year-old girlfriend, V Stiviano, with gifts - a Ferrari, two Bentleys, a Range Rover, a US$2 million apartment in Los Angeles - he failed to buy her silence. She released a secret recording between the two of them to a gossip website.

In it, the property tycoon was heard ordering Stiviano not to be pictured with black men, or to bring them to his team's games. What bigotry from a man whose team plays in a league where three-quarters of the players are black. A set-up it may have been, but that's still no excuse.

What's heartening is that the National Basketball Association responded swiftly, banning Sterling from watching his team, or any other NBA team, for life and fining him US$2.5m. According to media reports, at least 23 of Sterling's 29 fellow franchise owners in the NBA are ready to vote to eject him from the league, a move that would force him to sell the Clippers, an asset worth as much as US$750m.

According to a former NBA star player, Sterling had a track record of alleged racism. Which begs the question, why was he not ostracised earlier?

Racism in sport is not limited to basketball, of course. Football has had many documented cases of racism. As recently as last month, Barcelona defender Dani Alves responded to a racist taunt when a banana landed at his feet during a game by picking up the fruit, peeling and then eating it before proceeding to take a corner kick. After the match, Alves said that humour was the best way to combat racism in sports.

In England, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Football Supporters Association and the Professional Footballers' Association have all recently launched initiatives in a bid to encourage more people from ethnic minorities to attend matches. There have been a couple of high-profile cases. In 2012, the BBC reported that Swindon Town conceded that manager Paolo Di Canio, a self-described fascist, had made an inappropriate remark to Jonathan Tehoue which he deemed to be racist.

In 2011, former England captain John Terry was accused of a racial taunt against another player. The police announced a formal investigation into the allegations. After a four-day trial, Terry was acquitted. However, the Football Association found him guilty and banned him for four games.

What's concerning is, how many other Sterlings are out there.