Racism at World Cup casts shadow over soccer's big event

Best in soccer has brought out the worst in s... 02:17

The World Cup began with a multicultural celebration. But it didn't take long for the ugly side to appear in what fans call "the beautiful game." Two Argentine fans were arrested for taunting a black player as a "little monkey." Mexican fans allegedly screamed gay slurs at opposing goalkeepers.

"It's shocking how much racism exists -- public racism -- especially in European soccer," says sports journalist Grant Wahl.

Wahl points to past incidents that include Nazi banners in the stands and bananas thrown at black players on the field. American Jozy Altidore was the target of insults in Holland.

"We've seen racist chants, and we've seen players walk off the field in response to those racist chants," Wahl says.

Brazilian Danny Alves won praise in April when he nonchalantly took a bite out of a banana thrown at him. A defiant Internet campaign called "We are all monkeys" followed. "Anti-racism days" have also been held across Europe.

Team USA to face Portugal in World Cup 02:14

But there is frustration that FIFA - the sport's governing body -- has not done more.

""None of us, I don't think any of us, have got it right - perhaps in the last 10 or 15 years to be honest with you," says Jeff Webb, who heads FIFA's new anti-racism task force.

FIFA passed a resolution that would deduct points from teams with offensive fans, or issue fines. American Maurice Edu, who was subjected to online racism by his own team's fans while playing in Europe, is skeptical.

"That kind of money is nothing to them," Edu said. "They pay their fine, they do their due diligence in terms of finding the culprits and maybe they issue them a ban and life goes on. Then two weeks later, the same issue happens again. "

One more severe sanction is taking away home games, or forcing a team to play in empty stadiums -- no fans, no ticket receipts. That's exactly what FIFA did last year in Bulgaria, Hungary, Ukraine and Peru.

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.