Racism within football/Soccer Essay

Racism within football/Soccer Essay.

As A glory hunter I support Middlesbrough.Admittadly not the greatest club in the Premier League.I take any victories and cup excursions with open arms.One such occasion was when they rose to the dizzy heights of the Zenith Data final at Wembley.Having travelled from Germany all night I was more than happy to be drinking in the pubs near the ground.I eventually started to talk to a group of Chelsea fans,it quickly became clear that they were racist in their attitude to any player who was Black and would not cheer if any Black player for Chelsea scored” ?I asked them what they would do if they were in a European Cup final and it was a Black player who scored the winning goal or even a hat trick” ? “No” was the reply “we would just sit in our seats and do nothing “I couldn’t believe it.

I finished my drink and left the pub.

If I was honest I couldn’t believe their bigoted attitude.

I found it especially hard as at the time as I had just finished an active service tour of Northern Ireland where I had served along side Black people who I had worked closely with.I often wonder what those hypocrites would make of the present Chelsea team, full of very talented Black players.No doubt Chelsea are a better because of these players who have raised the clubs game and profile within England and Europe. Therefore to study football and how racism it and it’s affect upon society was an opportunity too good to be missed. An obvious starting point would be to define racism ? It be divided into three categories overt,institututional and covert.

Black players within the game are routinely subject to overt racism at games (Gruneau,.(1999).Although not as frequently, they and their families can still be subjected to covert racism.In recent times institutional racism has never been far from the public eye especially in light of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry about his murder and the subsequent investigation that followed which was dogged by institutional racism (MacPherson,1999).Football and the structure of the game would also appear to being affected by institutional racism.There are very few Black coaches and managers being employed. Indeed what are the sociological effects this is having and how are these theories affecting the game of football ?

Whilst it could be debated that football is autonomous it still has had to acknowledge the presence of racism.UEFA,Fiffa, along with respective F.A’s in the British Isles have sought to address this problem with campaigns e.g. ‘Football Unites Racism Divides’ and ‘Show racism The Red Card’. However football may be unwittingly providing an arena for any resentment and alienation that exists within communities.This behaviour is then displayed at matches.Although it would be hard to justify any racial behaviour of a player *Bowyer & Woodgate* .But what are the UEFA, Fiffa and the respective F.A’s doing in order to combat this problem ?Whilst it is an aim of this paper to acknowledge schemes that have been put in place to eradicate racism If we evaluate the success if any of schemes that have been run by UEFA, Fiffa and the F.A’s. we can see in recent events as those that took place at Sunderland in April 2003 these schemes are having little or no affect

The game of football has changed.Clubs are now run as PLC’s (Public Limited Companies) they are heavily reliant on the support of sponsors and television rights to games.It could be suggested that these companies need to look at their responsibility towards their morale obligation of ridding the game of racism.

*Bowyer & Woodgate*

Sarfraz Najeib.Najeib along with his brother Shahzad and three friends, then students at Leeds Metropolitan University had been attending the the Majestyk night-club club when on leaving the club an argument took place with the then Leeds United player Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer.Bowyer was cleared of attacking student while Woodgate received 100 hours’ community service for affray.

Little has been done by these companies to promote or forward any anti-racist programmes. Television companies appear willing to manipulate the fixture list for T.V. scheduling but are not willing to accept that there is a problem with racist behaviour.

Consequently it is the intention of this paper in its it final section to propose a financial strategy that could be used to tackle the problem of racism within football.

The British public has always had an affinity with the game of football.It has evolved and changed from ‘no rules’ to pre-war modern image onto a post-modern multi Million pound industry.High transfer fees and high wages are the norm.All seater stadiums especially in the Premier League better facilities and better standards are now expected. Satellite broadcasting reaches out to a larger audience than ever before with Sky paying in excess of £1.2 Billion pounds for the rights.Terrestial T.V has also been engaged in this battle,culminating in the BBC losing a Saturday night national institution’Match Of The Day’.

I.T.V now presents a polished and stylish programme for the fans along with a Black pundit and a female presenter,unheard of in previous decades (Giulonotti,1999). Broadsheet newspapers now actively report about football at great length.This domain was primarily reserved to the tabloid press and low quality magazines. Stadiums have changed for a number of reasons e.g. the Taylor Report 1995 after Hillsborough.The disasters at Bradford and Hysel forced governing football agencies to evaluate the structure of stadiums and the fans that attended these stadiums.These changes have attracted different fans Evidence to support this can be seen in the growth of executive boxes at football grounds

(Greenfield, & Osborn,2001).Working class fans now regularly mix with the middle class. No longer is the primary class of fans attending the game working class.

Racism is an easy term to use term.However it can and does have far reaching affects in society. There appears to be many definitions of the term although all these definitions arguably mean the same thing.

Racism can be defined as a specific form of discrimination usually based on skin colour or membership of a minority ethnic group. It’s a system of group dominance. This system is both structural and ideological. That is, it embodies political, economic, and socio-cultural structures of inequality. It involves processes and practices of exclusion, oppression and marginalisation, as well as stereotypes and symbols required by these structures and processes (Gilroy,1995).Within this process there are three sub forms of racism,overt,covert and and institutional.Overt racism can be seen as something violent, even thuggish.It can be displayed through violent behavior,threats to the person and even through demonstrations and political parties.However some political parties e.g. the British National Party (B.N.P) are no strangers to overt and covert racism.Covert racism seeing a rise in popularity i.e. people nowadays are reluctant to express openly their dislike of and contempt for minorities, indeed they are not prepared to express publicly a sentiment that could be interpreted as racist.

Racism (Gilroy,1995). Institutional racism has been defined as ordinary people going about their normal day to day business but producing outcomes that are disadvantageous to Black and ethnic minority groups.This form of racism can have catastrophic effects with regard to accommodation/housing, health and education leading to poor results for students (Cashmore, & McLaughlin, 1991).Whilst this example is related to racism within the state aparetus,a clear definition can be given by examining the Police and the ‘McPherson Report’Mcpherson reported that the Police was Institutional racist.This was protrayed in their investigations of racially motivated crime.A procedure known as ‘stop and search’.Routinly carried out against Black people.

In short the very essance in which the Police went about their duties was institutional racist to people from ethnic minoroties.In the report he comments “Unwitting racism can arise because of lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken beliefs. It can arise from well intentioned but patronising words or actions. It can arise from unfamiliarity with the behaviour or cultural traditions of people or families from minority ethnic communities. It can arise from racist stereotyping of black people as potential criminals or troublemakers. Often this arises out of uncritical self-understanding born out of an inflexible police ethos of the “traditional” way of doing things. Furthermore such attitudes can thrive in a tightly knit community, so that there can be a collective failure to detect and to outlaw this breed of racism. The police canteen can too easily be its breeding ground”( http://www.archive.official).

With these definitions of racism established we can now examine why are there so few Black players within the game as a whole.Foot ball employs only 20% of Black players (Black ,2001).Whilst there are no figures for players with an Asian or Oriental background it would be fair to argue that these players are even fewer and at best token gestures.With only 1% of black people watching the game (holmes,2003.Appendix).This problem is not just confined to Football in Great Britain.

If we look at America and the game of basketball we can see that for a long time they suffered same problem.Jay Coakley argues the reason why Black people were under-represented within coaching and management, was because of strong prejudices emanating from owners of clubs.These prejudices were founded in the belief that unless the Black coach or player make a dramatic impact upon their arrival they were doomed to failure.Coakley also adds that there was a strong stereotypical myth perpetrated by white people about Blacks, that there are “inferior intellectually” (Coakley,2001:301).While these beliefs are unfounded Coakley does however go onto argue :

“that these barriers no longer exist, although it would be difficult to conclude that race and skin colour have become irrelevant” “(Coakley,2001:301). Therefore an argument may exist that these problems which America experienced we too are now experiencing ?

Therefore Football has to tackle these problems and eradicate them in order to open the game out to a larger audience. UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner recently commented that racism was “an evil and a poison” (Uefa.com).In a recent conference held by UEFA at Stamford Bridge Chelsea.Aigner also commented that “We have to be prepared to reflect our duty.We have to to tackle racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination and hatred.” (uefa.com)Whilst in the conference acknowledgement was given to f.a.r.e {Football Against Racism in Europe},there was also an acknowledgement that there is still much left to do in order to tackle some of the root causes.Within the British Isles there appears to be a

multi-pronged attack on racism by the English,Scottish,Welsh and Irish F.A.s with the administration of Football Unites Racism Divides {f.u.r.d} and Show Racism The Red Card {s.r.t.r.c}.

S.r.t.c aim is to “combat racism through anti-racist education and professional footballers are showing the way in terms of making a stand and fighting racism”(srtrc.org). A member of f.a.r.e it targets school children as it’s audience and with the distribution of leaflets at football matches it seeks to capture a wider audience.It can count on the support of Sir Bobby Robson,Bryan Robson,Ian Wright,Gary Linekar amongst it’s supporters some of the most respected names in football.F.u.r.d seeks a more captive audience……Children. F.u.r.d “believes that football, as the world’s most popular game, can help bring people together – people from different backgrounds, to play, watch and enjoy the game, and to break down barriers created by ignorance or prejudice”. (furd.org).F.I.F.A in July 2001 put in place a fourteen point plan to tackle the problem.Amongst it’s recommendation was that there has to be an acceptance of responsibility amongst all those connected with the game to try and eradicate the game of racism.This is interesting only for the reason this is in direct contravention to one of F.I.F.A.s rules about international school children playing football together.

FIFA have a regulation which bans foreign kids from playing with English kids.Chapter IV, article 12 of the FIFA Regulations governing the status and transfer of players (pressbox.co.uk) The Mixer Soccer Academy, a full time private football academy in Dorset which attracts junior soccer stars from all over the globe, have a situation where their foreign students, playing and training football alongside English students all week, all year, are not allowed to play football with them at the weekend because the local Dorset FA. will not allow them to sign the appropriate forms and thereby allow them to play with the English kids. Perhaps if F.I.F.

A revised their 2001 ethos and brought it up to date with other initives being run in Europe there would not be this contradiction in terms ?Giulianotti argues that whilst these schemes are important they are fundamentally flawed in their belief that all racists who attend the game belong to some political right wing extremist group or a hooligan group.Not so many hooligan groups contain Black people.Giulianotti argues powerfully that “this smug belief therefore removes the real from this type of behaviour”. (Giulianotti,1999 :163).When it is clearly not the case as he cites the first game played by John Barnes the first Black player for Liverpool who was taunted with racist crowd chant’s throughout the game.

So how can we move forward.What I am about to present to you is not the holy grail of anti racist behaviour.Whilst there was an acknowledgement in the paragraph above about F.I.F.A.s short comings there was a chink of light in their fourteen point plan that may provide the foundation to the problem.F.I.F.A stated that it “requires the media to strongly condemn all acts of racist behaviour or declarations by any persons or groups, and to refrain from reporting such behaviour or declarations in a manner that may serve to provoke confrontation, and calls upon football websites (including those of clubs and national associations) to incorporate prominent anti-racism messages on their home-pages”(fifa.org).

Let us take this a step further.Sky Sports pays the Premier League £1.2 Billion pounds for the right to screen football.This money sees little light outside the Premier League if any at all.£2 Billion can be placed into an independent scehme,designed to target racism.This will provide a pro active starting point to tackling some of the root causes of racism within football.

Within this target :

All clubs MUST participate in this scheme.

Packages that tackle the key issues of racism.

Better training for stewards.

Actively seek to promote an anti-racist culture within the club and stands.


Actively seek to employ players at playing and coaching levels from an ethnic background.

The scheme has to be independent of the clubs.Primarily ran by elected members.These members must have no connection with a club or T.V.companies in any capacity. They would be given the power to award grants in order to aid clubs combat racism.Bonus payments could be made for meeting their set targets.But also the power has to be given to the panel in order to fine clubs that have failed to meet any basic level set.Nothing radical or complicated in this proposed package.These key points have to be implemented at all levels and everywhere in the club.You could be forgiven for thinking that all clubs actively employ this code of practice. Wrong.Richie Moran comments about racism within football.He comments that he was insulted and abused about everything from the colour of his skin to his hair style.This abuse was not only from the fans but it was equally directed from his fellow team mates.Consequently he left the game because of this abuse (Garlan,Malclom & Rowe,2000).

You could also be forgiven for thinking this is an isolated case it would never happen now,Clubs are more aware and are actively seeking to promote an Anti-Racist ethos ? Wrong.During the compiling of this paper letters were sent to the following clubs{ appendix} Bradford, Oldham, Middlesborough, Sheffield United all disturbingly failed to reply to letters sent to them.Burnley were also contacted, they replied to the letter but were to busy to enclose any literature !{ appendix}Sunderland however were different.

They were more than happy to distribute information about why and how they actively tackle racism at the Stadium Of Light.Sunderland do seem to have a pro-active attitude towards stamping out racism within football therefore it seems ironic.In the recent European qualifying match at the stadium Of Light there game was marred by violenceAmong those held were 25 individuals known to be associated with hooligan elements of Sunderland and Newcastle football clubs Police said no Turkish fans were arrested as a result of the match, which England won 2-0. The match had been given a high police priority, with around 1,000 officers on duty to prevent trouble between England fans and 5,000 Turkish supporters. At the height of the violence bottles, car wheel trims and bar stools were thrown at police. Superintendent Jim Campbell, of Northumbria Police, said “the policing of the event had been successful”! (www.bbc.)

Football has changed.From it’s origins of ‘no rules’ to a modern post war image and then now into its present post-modern image.High transfer fees, high ticket prices and high wages have changed the game.Although argumentative there is a belief that the game has drifted away from it’s working class origins into a more middle class audience.Stadiums are more modern, they had to change.’Italia 90′ saw little or no hooliganism. Together with a good run for the English team helped promote a positive image of the game in the U.K. Satellite television has helped changed the environment by which football is viewed.However whilst the officials stand and pat themselves on the back they are becoming guilty of complacancy.We have still not rid the game of racism.Evidence from the England game against Turkey has shown it.As A consequence critics would argue that the English F.A got off lightly with a fine and not having to play the next home qualifying game against Slovakia behind closed doors at Middlesborough.

Footballers their families and friends regularly suffer from the three forms of racism as set out in this paper covert,institutional and overt racism happen on a regular basis.Poor job prospects for managers and coaches and taunts from players and fans are common place.Fiffa,Uefa and the respective F.A.s are right to acknowledge this problem.However it would appear actions are short in their forth coming and it is nothing more than lip service.Fiffa almost got it right in their 2001 proposals when they said the media and other agencies have a duty to respond to racism.In order to survive clubs are dependant upon the large amount of income that television rights generate.

Television companies have influence within the corridors of football.Why therefore can they not influence clubs to make a more aggressive stand towards racism ?By not taking an aggressive stand towards racism within the game, the television companies are condoning racism. It may be because they fear it is an issue too large to tackle on their own. Therefore they have to realise they are not alone in this stand.Simply by sticking their heads in the sand and not acknowledging they have power and the responsibility to take the appropiate action, they are allowing the biggots to go unchallanged and prosper un-hinderd.Admittadly it is hard for any fan to confront a person(s) using racist language,but there are phone and text lines which they can use at the match to inform stewards and the police.Why not write a letter to the club alerting them to this issue.

Ultimately however the responsibility lies with the fan and society for this behaviour and it’s eradication from the game. Certain sections of our society are happy to abuse someone because they are Black and playing for the opposition. Surely as a modern society this cannot be right ?


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Racism within football/Soccer Essay

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