Racism is an ugly part of the beautiful game that still exists to this current day and does not get the media attention it should.
Recently West Ham played Manchester United and the main headlines from the game were regarding Manchester United coming back from 2-0 down to win the game 4-2 and Wayne Rooney’s outburst.
Something that wasn’t widely reported from the game was the alleged racial attack on the West Ham striker Frederic Piquionne and his family.
Luton Town player Adam Newton said: “Racism has obviously decreased a lot from the level it used to be at, there’s still a lot of cases but for some reason they are not highlighted or not the main focus of the news.”
The phenomenon of racism in football first became a subject of widespread concern in the 1970s and 80s.
This was at a time when there was increasing evidence of racist behaviour related to football and attempts by extreme right wing movements to use football as a bias for recruitment.
Racism in this time was blatant and obviously negative and to some level accepted as there were still very few black players in the game.
During the 80s this problem was rife at club level. When Chelsea’s first black player, striker Paul Cannoville took to the Selhurst Park field to face Crystal Palace at the end of the 81-82 season he was met by monkey grunts and racist abuse from his own fans.
This situation occurred regularly during the 80s and the reaction from some supporters was very stereotypical with some people believing that black people were more closely related to monkeys than themselves (white people) and believing that they weren’t British.
A topic that is not discussed frequently is boardroom racism.
Michael Johnson, former Birmingham City and Derby County defender said: “Racism has decreased and will raise its ugly head when ready and also in boardrooms, there is only one black manager.”
Chris Powell is currently the only black manager in the English football leagues at Charlton Athletic.
Johnson added: “It’s still rife not so much in clubs but upstairs at board level for sure”
As of 2002 UEFA introduced a blanket no tolerance against racism. This means that every club in Europe has had to agree on a no tolerance policy towards racism against their players and supporters.
This, alongside the Kick It Out Racism campaign is a step in the right direction towards eradicating racism in football.
It could mean more severe punishment for those found guilty as well as more support for those involved, hopefully leading to a time when racial equality is the norm in football.
Sheffield Wednesday Central Midfielder Liam Palmer said: “I think with campaigns such as Kick It Out goes a long way to help decrease racism in football although there is a long way to go before it is erased completely.”
Most football fans these days don’t really care where a player is born as long as they show commitment and passion for the club they play for. It could be said that the favourite player of many fans isn’t British and this shows how far the sport has come over the last few decades.
Since the increase of black players in the English Football Leagues many will agree that racism has declined due to the media’s involvement in giving them praise and recognition for their ability.
However there are still many problems of racism in today’s game, with black footballers still being singled out and targeted with racial abuse.
It even goes as deep as grassroots football which could put a large number of promising young black footballers off trying to pursue their dreams of becoming a professional. This just emphasises the struggle that black and ethnic minority groups face when they are trying to become part of a predominantly white sport in Britain.
Palmer added: “To be honest I’m not sure we will ever see a day when racism is no more, it’s just a case of how you deal with it and in football the best possible way is to use it as a positive and stick the ball in the oppositions net.”
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