Racism: The Chronic Disease in Football
The topic of racism in football seems to be a continuous issue in which we have yet to see the football governing bodies candidly express any real deprecation towards racist behaviour.
I would first like to highlight that racism is an issue that will probably never entirely be eradicated from football as it is a social issue much wider than any given sport. Just like crime or any other bad behaviour exhibited by human beings it will always be in the mainframe of societal issues. Just as in society where the appropriate punishments and guardrails are in place to try and deter civilians from committing criminal offences, the same must be done in football.
Let us first take a step back and look at how UEFA and The English FA have dealt with racism in the past. UEFA’s form of punishment for racist behaviour seem to follow a continuous pattern of fining countries minuscule amounts and stadium bans which have yet to dissuade football fans from committing acts of racism. In 2011 the Bulgarian FA were fined £34,250 after their fans directed monkey chants at Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Ashley Cole. Porto were fined a mere £16,700 after Mario Balotelli was subjected to monkey chants during a Europa League game while playing for Manchester City. Dynamo Kiev in 2016 were fined £43,000 and forced to play one match behind closed doors after fans attacked four black men in stands during a 0-0 draw with Chelsea in Ukraine. The list goes on with endless racist incidents and the same inadequate punishments dished out to the clubs and countries of the associated perpetrators. Same offences, same punishments, nothing changes.
We should also examine how the FA had recently failed to adequately support Eniola Aluko when she accused former England manager Mark Sampson of making racial remarks against two black English players. The FA failed to properly investigate the incident, whilst continually offering their bias support for Sampson and offering money to Aluko money to prevent her from speaking further on the matter in an attempt to prevent any disruption of England’s World Cup Campaign. Vindicated and ostracised by the Governing body, the public and teammates we witnessed how the English FA were more concerned with sweeping racism under the rug to cover the misdemeanours of the man they hired to lead the country for the sake of seeking international glory. Mark Sampson would later admit to his racial remarks, which coincided with calls for Martin Glenn and Greg Clarke to resign from their positions following their whitewashing behaviour of the scandal.
How can we possibly seek to tackle to the issue of racism when those in charge of governing the game take a soft-handed approach when dealing the issue. For Racism to be effectively dealt with, an environment must be created in which those considering racist behaviour would feel uncomfortable to operate within. I believe it is time to consider points deductions for teams whose stakeholders have been found guilty of racist behaviour. The reason fans continually behave in such an abhorrent manner is because the punishments does not affect the thing they love most, their clubs. When you deduct points from teams whose fans, players or anyone associated with the club are found guilty of racism, racism will become infrequent.
Those intending on being racist within or outside football grounds will think twice if the potential of points lost will prove to be huge factor in the final position of their clubs come the end of the season. Moreover other fans will aid in ensuring that football grounds become an ecosystem intolerant of racism to prevent such actions being taken against their clubs. The punishment must be befitting of the crime and clearly that has never been the case in regards to racism in football. Points deductions is but one solution but I believe more must be done to sanction clubs in ways that affect the running of the club, their positions in their respective league positions and inclusion in cup competitions.