There are many instances of racism creeping into football and the impacts of it are far and wide across the world.
Going to dates as recent as the Tokyo Olympics, Germany’s Olympic Football Team left the pitch against Honduras after alleged racist abuse towards Torunarigha. With 5 minutes left of regulation time, Torunarigha was racially abused on the pitch for the second time, when the German team decided to walk off the pitch together.
Going a bit further back, the summer of Euros saw English people being racist towards not one but three players, namely, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Bukayo Saka. They had missed crucial penalties during the finals of Euros this year.
As professionals, one may not perform optimally during very tense situations, but it does not give any right to racially abuse them, and English fans did cross a line.
The Champions’ League match between Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris Saint-Germain in December was abandoned because of racial means of identification by the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, during a conversation with the referee.
Coltescu was identifying Basaksehir assistant Pierre Webo, the former Cameroon striker while speaking in Romanian, “The black one over there. Go and check who he is.
The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that.” Players of both the teams walked off the pitch immediately and later it was reported that both the team captains and the players would return hand in hand to the pitch to play the remainder of the match.
All of the incidents that are written above were pretty recent. This increase of intolerance towards people of darker shades is problematic. Reports by Kick It Out; put the numbers at an increase of 42% in recent times.
Zaha has reported over 20 accounts for racism since being abused by a 12-year-old. This is exactly what we do not want our future to be. Children, more often than not, mimic what we do, and if what we do is problematic towards other people, it sets a bad example for future generations.
Also Read: In Pics: In 1948 Olympics In London, India Almost Beat France To Change The Course Of Indian Football
Ironically, the iconic “Take the Knee” took momentum after the “Black Lives Matter” movement spread in English Football, where they took the knee to show solidarity and support for the racially oppressed.
However, almost a year later, it has lost its momentum. The Tokyo Olympics released a statement saying taking the knee will be banned when the games take place in the summer. It has been reduced to a hollow gesture.
The Black Lives Matter movement made things worse, as the ingrained racism worked up and increased the racist slurs against footballers and in sport in general.
Ex FC Barcelona right back, Dani Alves tackled this situation of racist abuse by simply ignoring the fact. In his opinion, if one doesn’t flare the incident, it loses importance and a wide chunk of the attention-seeking behaviour is deprived of the attention it sought. He and then-teammate, Neymar, decided to eat a banana as a gesture to show that they were fighting racism to the end.
The eradication of racism, in general, is the next step forward. However, footballers come to support one another by abandoning matches and showing dissent to these kinds of behaviours.
This can be taken to the next level by taking to social media. However the last crusade against racism is exactly what brought about the spike in racism in football, so to repeal the racist attitude towards footballers, we need to be more strategic than going ballistic.
FIFA’s initiative for “Football For All” is one step that made the message loud and clear for everyone. In February 1999, when supporter groups, anti-racist non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and ethnic community organizations from 14 European countries came together in Vienna to establish the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. Back then the situation was different. People who were being racist were actually being held accountable.
The future work of FARE with UEFA, FIFA, and European Union institutions will not only emphasize joint efforts to eradicate racially motivated abuse inside stadiums but will also encourage clubs and associations to introduce policies and measures advancing diversity, to ensure equal representation of migrants and ethnic minorities at all levels of football, not just on the field.
The problem will stop only when the problem of racial abuse is stopped thoroughly and not by the overwhelming response in support of the victim.
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