Is racism a problem in football?
Article By Ryan Jay
It’s a question that has been asked on all fronts over the past year. In fact, it’s a question that has gained even more ferocity in its inquisition this month following the fallout of several high profile incidents. Many people in footballing circles seem worryingly perplexed at the implications of these unfortunate incidents, and in the typical circus-like fashion that the media folks flaunt themselves about in, they’re struggling to answer a question that is degenerating the beautiful game into a vulgar one.
Well chaps, I’m afraid the answer is quite simple. Yes, racism is a problem in football. Want to know why? Because racism in anything is a problem.
There have been two deprecate high profile cases in the Premier League recently, and many more overseas in other footballing cultures. Any more than zero and that tells me that there’s a problem that does not necessarily manifest itself within football, but instead intrudes into the footballing disposition. The problem we face is a societal one, and you can’t really kick racism out of football without kicking it out of society, for the two are very much intertwined. Being faced with this task, it’s saddening and very disconcerting to think that it’s an issue that will never be solved. Where does racism breed? It would be naïve to suggest it starts out on the football pitch, or in the stands. Most will recognise the fact that racism starts at home.
The ‘Kick It Out’ campaign deserves to have its praises sung, despite the recent controversies surrounding it. Jason Roberts knows a lot more about racism on the field than I do, and he’s certainly well within his rights to take whatever action he deems necessary if he feels not enough is being done to tackle the issues. That being said, if we are to get anywhere in encouraging an end to racism on the pitch and off of it, then there needs to be a more united front, with cooperation and pro action Rumblings of an ‘Association of Black Footballers’ have been heard over the past few days, and if you ask me that would be a backwards step, one of complete counter-production. The last thing football needs is further alienation and factionism.
I don’t think English football has it astonishingly bad to the point of black players being routinely abused from both players and fans, and The FA’s house is certainly more in order than that of say UEFA’s, who continue to impose more severe fines upon teams who show up a minute late to a match’s restart than upon those whose fans demonstrate blatant acts of abuse based on the colour of a player’s skin. However, incidents such as Terry’s four-game ban need to be given a good, thoughtful look at. Is this punishment suitable? John Terry earns a lot of money, yet having been found guilty of racism by The FA is given a small suspension, a fine not relative to his high earnings and is allowed to remain as the club’s leader on the pitch. Fans can take away the wrong messages from that. His actions haven’t been appropriately punished, and people will fail to see the severity of it. A problem that has seeped into football suddenly threatens to go full circle.
All football can do is handle these incidents properly. Racism is a problem anywhere. As hard as it is to stamp out that problem altogether, it needs to be dealt with all the same.