opinion

Kate Emery opinion: Soccer star Sam Kerr’s ‘racially aggravated’ insult a cause for relief for Matildas fans

Kate Emery
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Sam Kerr is facing criminal charges over a racist slur.
Sam Kerr is facing criminal charges over a racist slur. Credit: The Nightly

Not since Cortnee Vine found the back of the net in the World Cup penalty shootout against France have Australian soccer fans felt such relief.

“Stupid white bastard”.

That’s the alleged “racially aggravated” abuse that has Matildas superstar Sam Kerr facing criminal charges after an incident last year involving a taxi driver, a late-night spew and a verbal altercation with a London police officer, according to UK media reports.

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Kerr, who denies any wrongdoing, allegedly said those three words to one of two police officers during a dispute over the taxi fare after a night out with friends, presumably to celebrate Kerr’s hat trick during a Chelsea game earlier in the evening.

Rude? Certainly. Criminal? We’ll see. Racist? Hmm.

Fans who were justifiably alarmed by the idea that Kerr, the Aussie sporting icon with the humble persona off-pitch and the ability to defy gravity on it, might be a racist boor would have every reason to feel relieved that at least one of those accusations looks significantly less serious than it did a couple of days ago. I should know: I was one of them.

Cortnee Vine.
Cortnee Vine. Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Spare me the argument that insulting a Caucasian person based on their race is equivalent to doing the same to someone who is not white.

There isn’t enough newsprint in the country to fully explain why that’s wrong, but the short version goes like this: Only one of those insults is punching down. Racism is prejudice plus power.

I wouldn’t go so far as those on social media who have suggested the decision by UK Police to prosecute Kerr, who has Anglo-Indian heritage, over the incident would be the domino that finally turned Australia into a republic.

There’s nothing noble about allegedly getting so drunk you throw up in a taxi, dispute the fare and abuse a cop, even if it was — as Sydney Morning Herald sports reporter Vince Rugari put it on X, formerly Twitter — “Shane Warne coded”.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Sam Kerr of Australia applauds fans after the team's 1-3 defeat following the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Semi Final match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia on August 16, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images )
Was Kerr’s alleged insult racist? Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The world is still no closer to knowing whether Kerr will go to trial next year over the allegations, with her legal team reportedly seeking to have the case thrown out. The racially aggravated offence charge is a potentially serious one under UK law.

Nor are we likely to know all the nitty gritty any time soon, some of which might well prompt yet another swift 180 for Kerr fans.

And it’s unclear what all this will do to her reputation, including her lucrative endorsements.

But, for now, Kerr has managed to do off the field what she does so easily on it: Keep fans’ faith alive.

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