Racism in football is a problem which never ceases to rear it’s ugly head. Just as it seems we are making progress, another incident makes us think twice. With campaigns like Kick it Out uniting footballers at least on the pitch,does the problem lie with the fans? Particularly our ‘pub culture’ towards football?
Between 2012-2015, 350 racial incidents were reported to UK police, with the majority from grassroots. This is an alarming sign that racism in football is more a societal problem, a view shared by charity Show Racism the Red Card. Clubs condemn the actions of racist fans, an example being the lifetime ban given to four fans who refused to let a black man on the Paris tube after their game against PSG in 2015.
According to YouGov polls, fans are happy with how clubs act in punishing acts of racism with zero tolerance. On the other hand, the majority of the public agree that fans themselves can do a lot more to prevent the incidents. The problem, arguably, is that clubs can only act in retrospect. The solution offered by players such as OGC Nice striker Mario Balotelli, is to educate fans before incidents occur.
In a CNN interview Balotelli says that racism makes players ‘feel alone’, even in a stadium of thousands. He adds: “It is normal to insult opposition players, but not racist things.”
It seems that whilst racism is being tackled from the top, it is the fans who make up a large proportion of the problem. It is only logical that anti-racism campaigns turn their heads to educating the public if racism is to be abolished completely from football.
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