Is Racism Still Rife in Football?

Not to long ago black footballers in the United Kingdom were frequently faced with monkey chants from the terraces and racial abuse from their opponents. Now the problem seems to have been mostly eradicated from the British game and it is not unusual to have a back player in the football league (approximately 25% of professional players are of black origin). The problem might have crept out of the British game but a series of incidents over the past decade throughout Europe suggests the problem is still rife in mainland Europe.

During the 1970s and 1980s in the British Isles footballers from different ethnic backgrounds were abused regularly from members of the crowd making monkey chants, singing racist or anti-semitic songs and also chants closely linked to patriotism. It is believed that this was all linked to far-right groups who seemed to be using football matches to recruit new members and to hand out literature.

Far-right groups like the National Front (NF) used their magazine ‘Bulldog’ to promote competitions amongst fans like for the title of ‘most racist ground in Britain’. Copies of ‘Bulldog’ were openly sold at grounds across the country and clubs like Chelsea, Leeds United, Milwall, Newcastle United, Arsenal and West Ham were seen to have strong fascist elements. After the Heysel stadium disaster in the 1980s, British National Party leaflets were found on the terraces!

During the 1990s the British government introduced measures to combat racism in football alongside footballs governing bodies as well as at club level, supporter level and organisations like Kick Racism out of Football. The 1990s saw a massive decline in racism in the British game and now football fans will hardly ever hear racist abuse at football stadiums in Britain.

The British authorities and various other parties seem to have grasped hold of the problem and helped to eradicate the minority who use football as a tool to vent racism, but the same can not be said for other European nations. The problem of racism in mainland Europe is being described by some as ‘endemic’. It seems as though some football federations are in denial of the problem even though players, fans and ethnic minorities are abused regularly. UFABET เว็บพนันบอลดีที่สุด

Just like the National Front used to target football grounds in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, neo-nazi and neo-fascist groups are now targeting football grounds around Europe for recruitment. The worst affected clubs are Lazio and Verona in Italy, PSG in France and Real Zaragoza and Real Madrid in Spain. A series of incidents in Southern Europe has highlighted this over the past few years.

In November, 2004, Spain entertained England in a friendly match at the Bernabeu in Madrid. The fact that England were outclassed by Spain and lost the match 1-0 seems to have been forgotten for different reasons. Thousands of Spanish fans in the stadium appeared to be neanderthal in their racist chanting as they were making monkey noises every time second half substitute Shaun Wright-Philips touched the ball. The chanting was clearly heard by millions of English fans sat watching the match on the BBC and the commentators condemned the chanting and stated there was no need of it in the modern game.

In response to this incident the British Sports Minister (Richard Carbon) wrote to his Spanish counterpart insisting that some action be taken. The English FA were already preparing to write to FIFA and UEFA in the aftermath of the under-21 encounter between the two nations when Glenn Johnson, Darren Bent and Carlton Cole were the targets of racist chanting.

The British media blamed Spanish coach Luis Aragones for the incident as prior to the match a Spanish TV crew filmed him trying to motivate Jose Antonio Reyes by making racist references to his team-mate, Thierry Henry. He used the phrase “Demeustra que eres major que ese negro de mierda”, which translates in English “Show that you’re better than that shitty black guy”.

The Spanish FA declined to take any action, but after an investigation UEFA fined the federation $87,000 and warned that any future incidents would be punished more severely (like suspension from major international tournaments or playing behind closed doors).

A few years later football in Spain was in the media again for the wrong reasons. In February 2006, Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o suffered from racially-driven verbal abuse by fans of Real Zaragoza. During the match fans began making monkey-like chants whenever he had possession of the ball and peanuts were hurled onto the pitch. Eto’o threatened to leave the pitch in protest but his team mates calmed him down. Barcelona won the match 4-1 and Eto’o danced like a monkey when he scored stating he did it as rival fans were treating him like a monkey. Surprisingly referee Fernando Carmona Mendez did not mention the incidents in his match report.

Real Zaragoza were only fined a measly 600 Euros by the Spanish FA and several other clubs were also fined during the course of the season for similar incidents. Atheltico Madrid were fined 6000 Euros for racial abuse of Espanyol’s Cameroon goalkeeper Carlo Kameni and Deportivo La Coruna, Albacete and Getafe received fines for similar incidents

 

 

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