If you thought the ‘Great Plague’ was bad, then this epidemic might just have beaten it. You see it on advertising boards in stadiums, you see web pages dedicated to this cause on official club websites; you even see this when you start playing football manager but some people just donai??i??t get it.

There always has to be a rotten apple in the basket, to ruin the fun of the rest. Although few would disagree that the game has evolved through passing eras, nobody can possibly put a finger on why racism still prevails? It starts from a place which calls itself home for a motley of people and then starts to become a cause for any unprecedented happening and from there on, it is just a snowball effect. This snowball today has engulfed the beautiful game and there is nothing even Cambridge grads can do about it.

Racism has evolved over decades now and has served as the primary weapon for a certain diaspora of fans anywhere in the world. It is portrayed as a vendetta against those towards whom it is directed and it is a clear reflection of the past practices, beliefs and histories in any local. In fact, it is practiced against a few even without reason. Yes, football brings in competition and when there is competition, there will be people taking sides. You take sides for the sake of the game and not for the sake of humanity.

However, it seems that even with the advancements in technology, the growth in global economy and steps taken to protect the ozone layer, one simple thing hasnai??i??t moved forward enough – peopleai??i??s thinking. To bring this under the scope of football, it means that fans will go above and beyond in showing love and support for their club and on the contrary, hatred for the opposition. Is it really necessary?

It is not a problem of one region. It is something that is breathing across all continents ai??i?? every minute of every hour of every day. Be it Africa, Asia or even Australia; the ill-fated practice of racism has trickled into the game and has tainted the spirit of football. Top players like Samuel Etoai??i??o, Ruud Gullit, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos and many many more have been victimized time and time again. What good is the constant ai???monkey-chantingai???, ai???banana-throwingai???, ai???hissing noises to emulate gas chambersai??? going to bring to the game? There are people who are thick-skinned and probably do not care if they are banned from entering the stadium for life and then there are those whose actions/reactions stem from xenophobia. It is fine to accept that fans, players, managers and commentators wear a different mask when a game begins but to jump the fence and cross the limits of civility was never in the realm of the game.

Racism is again a facet of hooliganism in football and what most of the hooligans tend to not realize is that when a player is subjected to racial taunts, he has to stand-up not just for himself but for the entire community that he represents. Imagine this happening in different countries and different leagues. At every place, it becomes a scenario of a one-man army fighting against a practice that is now supposed to be a taboo in society ai??i?? be it because of his skin-color, his race, his nationality or anything else. It is unfair that in a world where symbiosis is the key to existence, there are a bunch of antagonists who are, without any direction or cause, wreaking havoc all over.

.

.

Researchers believe that one of the catalysts for racism during football matches is due to media coverage. In Europe, where importance given to football is paramount, the media is proactive in its work and reaches the stadium even before fans can walk in. Logically speaking, anyone from the media who wants to grab readersai??i?? attention while they sip tea the next morning will not miss out on covering any display of racism during the game. Sensationalizing such a story will not only mask the very game that happened but will also lionize the group involved in the ai???bannedai??? activity. It is believed that such hooligans enjoy the media attention showered upon them. Hence, even if you argue that there is only a small sect of people involved in racism during matches, think again. The word spreads.

In the recent activities taken place in the Premier League, Anton Ferdinand and Patrice Evra claim they were subjected to racial discrimination on the pitch. Yes, the FA has initiated an investigation; yes, the players accused ai??i?? John Terry and Luis Suarez have spoken their side of the story; yes, the hunt for evidence has begun, but here is what one article had to say (click here to read the article.) The writer quotes:

ai???So, Mr Evra and Mr Ferdinand, I know you feel insulted. But perhaps in this case you could just put up with it and get on with the game.ai???

What does this indicate? Racism is always spewed with intent to insult but the one affected by it is expected to drop his vexation because thatai??i??s what the spirit of football preaches. Right here you can see the clear disconnect and the necessity to preclude this practice. But how many of them are realizing this? This is where the problem lies.

During the 70ai??i??s and 80ai??i??s, racism in football was at its peak in Europe. However, ever since then, various initiatives have born to tackle this issue. Networks such as FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), Stand Up Speak Up, Show Racism The Red Card, Kick It Out and Racism Breaks The Game were started from the mid-1990ai??i??s. These networks plan and organize several initiatives that highlight the importance of discontinuing racism in football. Several big name players are invited in these activities to educate young kids and uneducated masses of how true football doesnai??i??t cover an individualai??i??s background and has always been played with a sportive spirit.

If one had to tackle racism and aim to eradicate it from the game, one of the most difficult challenges would be targeting your solution. It is not just fans abusing players – like when England visited the Bernabeu – or players abusing other players like in recent recent allegations.

In 2004, ITV presenter Ron Atkinson resigned after he made racist remarks about Chelsea player Marcel Desailly assuming that the microphone was switched off. To his chagrin, he had to also resign from The Guardian following this disrespectful act. Luis Aragones was once caught making racist remarks about Thierry Henry to none other than his own teammate at the time ai??i?? Jose Antonio Reyes. The FA can always thump a fine on such individuals. And in these times where money is quite literally ruling the roost in the game, it is hardly a punishment to take a few greens from an individual for his ideologies.

Football IS doing its bit!

Football never gave birth to racism and yet it is suffering from it. Serious efforts have been made over the past few decades to reduce this ocean of poison to a rivulet and finally to a drop before wiping it off clean. However, racism is not going to be killed by football. Football is only playing ally in tackling a global disease. And even on this front, the time and effort invested is not a total 100%.

Several FAai??i??s have been given the power and authority to take the steps necessary to stop this evil from making its way into the game and yet they have proved lazy and lethargic in their actions. Yes, the glory words of ai???Weai??i??re making progressai??? and ai???We are taking the right steps to handle thisai??? will always come out in a room with over 10 photographers and formal-clothed men and women sitting on chairs with a notepad and pen; but what happens behind the scenes is always a different story.

Credit shouldnai??i??t be taken away from those who are in love with the game and are genuinely disturbed by racism. What they are doing is for the betterment of the society and not just to curb this practice. Unfortunately, when you see so much effort going into tackling racism and yet you see it prevalent in todayai??i??s world, there is only one conclusion you can draw from it ai??i?? it will only end if people change their thought process.

In the coming years, several more organizations and networks will start, several more campaigns will be launched and several more people will rally prior to a match to show their support for ai???Kicking Racism out of Footballai???. Do not wait to enroll for one of these and get a free t-shirt and a mug. Stand up and be counted. Kick racism out of your mind first. It will eventually leave the football stadium too.

ai???Black or white, we all have football under our skin ai??i?? Eusebioai???

—–

Do you believe media plays its part in glorifying the racists? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below..

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2 Responses to “Racism In Football: Post Suarez-Evra & Ferdinand-Terry Sagas, How Far Have We Kicked It Out?”

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  1. Dogzenkatz says:

    Racism is just one of those things that people get especially uptight about, especially when the media blows it out of proportion. The real issues caused by racism would be unnecessary hate and misunderstanding between communities, and people being discriminated against, thereby affecting their livelihood. In football, it would indeed be a worry if fans subject players to physical abuse or they are not given opportunities based on colour. However, where it comes to taunts between players, it should indeed be overlooked. We’ve all heard how sticks and stones may break our bones so words shouldn’t be allowed to hurt us. We also know that as a professional footballer, it is part of the job to push and be push, kick and get kicked. Players get punched, tripped, elbowed, clattered and trampled all the time and all of this is in the name of getting as much of an advantage on the pitch as you can. Now, if all the physical attacks are sanctioned and players are indeed allowed to wind their opponents up using other kinds of taunts, sometimes involving their mothers, lovers and wags, how different is a verbal abuse based on race? Volenti non fit injuria – it comes with the job. Players should just harden up and learn to deal with it, or they could just headbutt the perpertrator and prepare to be sent off!

  2. Donna Van Oss says:

    Racism rears it’s evils among all sports and i feel that all incidents should be reported and parties held accountable…But in the end we as a people must stand up in the stadiums or wherever we may be and confront the vile people who spew this slime..