Racism: noun. Prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Racism is an issue that people face everyday, not just in the sports industry but pretty much everywhere because it is a massive issue worldwide. In football, racism is not only an issue players have to deal with but it is an issue many people in the industry might deal with, whether it be officials, referees, fans or board members the list is endless.
There have been many different incidents of racism in football, however, some cases have been dealt with better than others. Take the Euros in 2012 for example, the event was held in Ukraine and Poland despite their negative reputations as countries that are known for their violent and anti-Semitic behaviour at previous games. Before the Euros, BBC’s Panorama spent a month filming at both countries and saw the widespread racist attacks on fans and players and this included attacks on minorities at football matches as well. However, UEFA explained that by giving the two countries the opportunity to host such an important event, it was a chance for both Poland and Ukraine to improve their reputation.
“UEFA Euro 2012 brings the spotlight on the host countries and clearly creates an opportunity to address and confront such societal issues.”
Although the Euros in 2012 is an extreme example of racism in football, it does show that it is a big problem in the industry. An example on a smaller scale would be the incident that occurred in 2014 when Barcelona played Villareal away. Barcelona defender, Dani Alves received racist remarks from the home supporters at Villareal as he had a banana thrown at him. However, subsequently after the fruit was thrown, Alves picked it up and took a bite of it before taking a corner kick. The Brazilian’s actions then kindled a social media operation against racism and alongside teammate Neymar Jr. they created the trending hashtag ‘#WeAreAllMonkeys’ which was initially used as an act of cohesion between players but soon took off and became a worldwide hit as many other footballers, celebrities and politicians later joined in to show their support and fight against racism.
These two very different incidents do show how different cases are dealt with and the rules and measures put forward by FIFA ensure that there are consequences such as point deductions, match suspensions and disqualification to minimise any chance of any kind of racist behaviour. Rules and regulations have been put in place to reduce any kind of racism but a lot still needs to be done before racism is no longer apparent.
To help the game become a ‘racism free’ sport there are many campaigns that help to tackle racism and discrimination such as Kick It Out, Show Racism The Red Card, Sporting Equals and The Fare Network. These are only a handful of campaigns that aim to tackle racism in sport and there are many more out there.
Engaging in sport is a way for people from different backgrounds to come together. Sports do not promote discrimination they promote unity and cohesion and racism has no place in the industry and anywhere else. Although it is easier said than done and progress is slowly being made, I do believe it is important to set an example to the younger generation to simply kick racism out of the beautiful game.