Ways to kick out racism from soccer

Racism+has+long+permeated+the+sport+of+soccer.+But%2C+certain+strategies+can+be+implemented+to+mitigate+the+issue.

Cameron Spurr

Racism has long permeated the sport of soccer. But, certain strategies can be implemented to mitigate the issue.

Nassef Sawiris, Staff Writer

Racism and discrimination still cruelly pervade our society today. These aspects, therefore, are heavily present in soccer.

Fans are consistently discriminating against players and managers. These messages of hate and racist chants have ingrained a level of discomfort for many athletes. 

Over the years, prejudice and discrimination have impacted the sport in many cases. It has become a catastrophe for fans, athletes and all involved.

Furthermore, these negative remarks by individuals have enormously impacted the game and will not stop unless serious precautions are taken. The longer the world waits to make these measures, the more dangerous this crisis gets. 

The sporting industry has come a long way from the past, but there is still a long way to go in this fight against racism and discrimination. I am going to present you with three simple solutions for this issue.

Educating Fans 

Cameron Spurr

The Premier League’s main partner in fighting racism is the Kick It Out organization. This organization strives to educate fans and the general public in the hopes of forming allies against race-related abuse.  Their vision relates to not only cleansing the negativity and eradicating hate from the sport, but also to fostering a supportive community where everyone is treated equally.

According to Kick It Out, their vision is that “football will be a sport where people flourish in a supportive community, and where fairness is openly and transparently practiced and enforced for the good of all participants.”

Organizations like these need to take over and adopt more responsibility since they promote positivity in the footballing space through education and grassroots campaigns.  

Kick It Out educates young adults via their multiple educational offerings, intent on heightening understanding of equality and inclusion within not just football itself, but extending to society at large. Thousands of people in the U.K. have already benefited from their program, per Kick It Out

With time, this education will spark comprehensive understanding which will greatly benefit the game.

Athletes using their platforms

Arguably, the most significant cause for racism in football is the sport’s lack of education. The primary source of ignorance is a lack of understanding, leading to uneducated statements.  

There are few initiatives that have been backed by the FA to eradicate racism from football, and there is not one major organization that covers fighting racism across the sport. 

However, these organizations aren’t the only responsibility that the FA are in charge of dealing with. Players are given an immense stage and they are not doing enough to use their voices in order to achieve significant change. With time, players are being seen as more role models than simply players. With this change, they are given the opportunity to gain accountability and it is up to them to channel that into having a positive impact on the world.

Furthermore, we have witnessed the amazing impact and change that can be implemented when players use their large platform to stand up for what they believe in. One example of this is Marcus Rashford MBE, who has made an immense difference by using his influential platform to benefit under-privileged kids in the U.K. during the pandemic. His hard work resulted in the U.K. Government changing its policy over its free school meals vouchers during lockdown.

Reporting Racism

In recent years, the Football Association has made it easier to report and restrict the abuse via multiple reporting outlets online. However,  the system needs to be modified in games.

On the Premier League website, the only piece of information and advice given to fans is, “If you witness racist or other discriminatory behavior at a match or around a stadium, please report it to the nearest steward or police officer.” 

This is a simple way for fans to turn into bystanders and make an excuse simply just show the racism a blind eye and not act upon the discrimination. In addition to this, it also shows the lack of eagerness to stop these race-related attacks

These precautions are not considering the number of people who wouldn’t act upon the abuse at football matches. Bystanding is one of the main factors of prolonged abuse. Only placing stewards on the outskirts of the stands shows the absentmindedness of members in the footballing hierarchy. 

In addition to this, it shows the poor handling of this situation which is what needs to change. The more effective way to handle this issue would consist of many slight adjustments, such as having someone give instructions on how to report racism and for them to give context on why abuse is unacceptable on the loudspeakers before games instead of having music play in the background. 

Furthermore, according to a survey carried out by SkySports, only 12% of the sampled population would be very confident in their knowledge on how they could report racist abuse in comparison to the 13% who said that they were not confident at all. In terms of the people more in the middle between the two spectrums of confidence, 31% of people said that they were confident along with the 32% that said they weren’t very confident. This information is alarming as these numbers allow room for racism to continue.

Persecution and Law

It is ironic that although there are harsh punishments and measures to support the prosecution of racist acts, the number of prosecutions are significantly lower than expected. Clearly, they don’t match up with the actual number of racist gestures taking place. It seems the main reason for this discrepancy is lack of consistency in regards to punishment. 

Many hold the unrealistic hope that racism in football is not as big of an issue as it seems. Undermining an issue of this importance is very damaging as it can eventually fester and the problem will develop further. In terms of changes that are needed for progress and much-needed improvements, there must be a more efficient way to report racism, as previously stated. 

After the racism is reported, however, there must be more effort expended to make sure that those making these remarks are punished correctly. The effects of these new targets being implemented will be shown immediately as there will be less comfort within racist fans. Furthermore, not only will this amplify consequences, but it will mean that there will be a system in place to ensure every act of racism receives a punishment that corresponds to the magnitude of that specific form of hate speech. 

Regulations

Restricting racism in football can be achieved by creating and promoting regulations. Established regulations are essential when battling racism as they stop abuse taking place at that exact time. They also promote education and new knowledge for fans and people around the sport. When such issues are more seriously regulated, it will be easier to limit the amount of abuse.

Many of the consequences of racist interactions are unknown to fans, and, at this rate, the frequency of racist incidents is only getting worse – for example, online abuse. With time, social media has become a prevalent aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, social media is also the largest contributor to the forms of racism and hate that Premier League players are receiving.

According to Sky Sports, data reveals unmoderated racist online abuse increased by 48% in the second half of the 2020-21 football season. A contributing factor to this was the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put a halt to fans being allowed in stadiums and games.

Furthermore, two in five Premier League players reported receiving abusive messages on Twitter last season, a new Professional Footballers’ Association-funded study has found, via Sky Sports. This statistic reinforces my claims that the measures currently being taken are nowhere near as effective as they should be and that some serious switches are needed for the necessary policies to be set in place.

Prejudice and discrimination have very much impacted the sport of football. It has become a catastrophe for fans and athletes alike. Nonetheless, the longer the FA waits for these precautions to be taken, the more dangerous this crisis will be. There is still a long way to go in the battle against racism.

Still, these five precautions – education, pushing athletes to use their influential platforms, the process of reporting these incidents, prosecuting the ignorance of racism and finally, restricting it in the future with forceful regulations – will benefit and accelerate the eradication of racism from football.