Reporter Jake Murphy looks into racism within football.
RACISM within football was at its height in the 1970s. Since then society and culture have changed dramatically and we now live in what is considered to be a multi-cultural society. However, sadly one thing has not changed-and that is racism in football. In 2019 it seems to be as rife as it ever was and is possibly getting even worse.
Over the last five months alone racist remarks have been made towards Sporting Bengal players, a team consisting of mostly Asian players. On a more global scene we have witnessed England players Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi become victims of ‘Monkey’ chants made towards them in a 2020 European championship qualifier away to Montenegro.
In the same match Sterling scored the fifth goal for England and celebrated in front of Montenegro supporters by doing monkey gestures in protest to the crowd and many people publicly supported his actions.
In 1993 a charity organisation called Kick It Out was set up in order to help victims of discrimination within football.
Osei Sankofa once played for Charlton Athletic, but now is the education officer at Kick It Out.
He said: “Since we’ve started our reporting the number of incidents has gone up year by year. We anticipate that there will be a further rise going into next year.”
The former Southend United defender added: “Racism has reared its head again because as an industry and as a nation we’ve got quite complacent. We’ve all heard the horror stories about how the terraces were like in the 70s and 80s. In the last 20 years football has done a lot of things to combat racism, every club of a decent standard now have equality officers. Ultimately I do feel that we (the football community) have buried our head in the sand to racism is not as bad as it is now.”
The media portray that the stereotypical racist football fan are white males in their 50’s and 60’s , however the danger is that these views will be passed down the generation and this is something that Osei has noticed in his role as the kick it out Education officer.
Osei said: “I hear the same views as from these stereotypical 50 year olds from 10, 15, 20 year olds so it’s on both ends of the scale. I understand it more when the older generation do it as that’s the way they was bought up, however with the younger generation there’s more education so they make the choice to make bad decisions or not.”
The last recorded results were based on the 2017/18 season:
53 per cent of complaints received constituted of racism that’s a rise of 22 per cent from the 16/17 season.
Disability discrimination had 107% rise from 14 to 29.
In total the charity received a total of 520 reports up 11 percent from 469 in 2016/17.
214 of these were incidents in the professional game.
201 incidents were from Social Media.
105 Incidents in Grassroots Football.
Osei said:” Muslims and black people seem to receive most of the racist abuse within football, however sadly discrimination as a whole is increasing with anti- Semitism on the rise as is homophobia and disability abuse.
It’s clear to see that education needs to be rolled out within the community and that’s certainly something Kick It Out have started doing within the local community. The main asset to their community work is their flagship conference called Raise Your Game. This where 400 young people are invited to the Emirates stadium (Arsenal FC) and sit in front of 100 mentors in speed dating style format. This is a great way for the younger generation to learn skills to be used in the football industry as well as the importance to treat every individual the same.The rise of social media has also been a massive component to racist and extremist views increasing the modern day. ‘Keyboard Warriors’ is a term used commonly refer to those who abuse people online.
Osei said: “I think social media has led to a rise because you can be a faceless account and remarks often go unpunished by the authorities. Sadly seeing such abuse in a public domain almost normalises it and other think it’s acceptable to do the same.”
Interestingly the former defender has never been racially abused on the football pitch, however he has been the victim of racist abuse countless times in everyday situations.
The way the modern game is going, it’s clear that many players virtually go unpunished for racist abuse so surely clubs should be intervening and sacking players and giving life time bans to supporters instantly for such offences, however Osei feels that this would not be manageable.
Famously when John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand, he remained captain of his club, although receiving a £222,000 fine and a four match ban, although in this case the court deemed no wrong doing, but the FA upheld this.
Osei said: “If a club values a player, they are not going to sack them for saying something racist. For example when Luiz Suarez racially abused Patrice Evra, he remained at his club. Honestly I don’t think sacking a player is the right thing to do as people make mistakes due to certain circumstance, however I do feel a three strikes and you’re out scheme should be enforced.”
Will racism die down in football, or will it always be an ugly part of the game.
The latter appears to be the most likely, but only time will tell.