When you think of sport, many things come to your mind. Excitement, adrenalin, passion and drama are just some of the adjectives that can be used, but unfortunately the world of sport has a very bad ‘disease’ it’s suffering from at the moment. The “disease” of racism.
In recent times, racism has welcomed itself back into prominence in sporting arenas (but it’s not very welcome at all). Matches involving Liverpool and Manchester United, United and Crystal Palace, Man U vs Wolves, have all been affected.
When I say affected, what I am referring to is that players of an ethnic origin, Messers Pogba, Abraham (Chelsea striker) and Rashford have been subject to online abuse, after both Rashford and Pogba missed costly penalties earlier this season.
British Asian Hamza Chaudhry of Leicester City was also subject to vile racist abuse. If you’re a student of sporting knowledge like myself or have had enough life experience to witness the 70’s and 80’s, the natural observation is that such abuse was disgraceful and demonstrated a complete ignorance on the perpetrators part.
The general consensus was that although not completely gone, the problem, the “disease” that is racism has been nullified almost. Sadly, this isn’t the case, and it’s become very apparent in football matches that the “prehistoric” times are back.
Other high-profile incidents were when England went to Bulgaria, who themselves have been punished by footballs governing body UEFA. With the Eastern European side, having this punishment on their record if you like, sadly it didn’t deter their fans.
England’s Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford were just some of the players that were targeted. In line with UEFA protocol, the announcement of the abandonment of the match if things didn’t improve was announced over the tannoy system.
This didn’t deter some of Bulgaria’s fans. T-shirts mocking UEFA’S respect campaign and Nazi salutes were just some of the offensive gestures that Bulgaria’s fans were seen doing (that only some of their fans of course and not all).
After this match, England said they wanted to do their talking on the pitch, arguably did that with a 6-0 win. The biggest victory it could be said was off the pitch when it was announced that seven men were arrested after the fall of the racist events in Sofia. that matter of racism and the outcry, in turn, saw Bulgaria’s prime minister intervene in this matter, and it was the prime minister himself who demanded the Bulgarian head of FA Broislov Mikhailov to resign, which he duly did.
Those consequential actions of Bulgaria from politician to football chief down may have demonstrated just how big of a fall out this is, but this is only just one small way to tackling the issue.
England vs Bulgaria may be a high-profile example of a match which involved racism, but it’s a bit lower down the footballing ladder, I want to discuss here.
A match between Haringey and Yeovil, an FA Cup qualifier wouldn’t be a match where with the greatest respect, it wouldn’t catch the public eye on a grand scale.
After a move by Haringey to walk off the pitch after the 64th minute due to some shocking abuse, but the club came in the limelight, in a way that the London club wouldn’t have intended.
Haringey’s goalkeeper, Douglas Pajetat was allegedly subjected to this disgraceful abuse. Haringey decided to walk off the pitch after their manager Tom Loizou said some of his players were “frightened” after hearing the abuse in close quarters.
Thankfully the Metropolitan Police are looking into the matter. Not just for football, but for society, on the whole, the hope would be for arrests to be made. Two men aged 23 and 26, have been remanded in police custody.
Sadly, football isn’t the only sport who has had to deal with issues of racist behaviour by fans. Football has been able to punish players like John Terry, or Luis Suarez for alleged racism taunts/chants, but in 2019, there always seems to be another tale to tell where a sports player is getting judged, prejudiced by the colour of his/her skin. Desperate times indeed.
Cricket, forever associated with being a gentleman’s sport, but even cricket itself hasn’t been immune from racism. Two incidents which come to my mind are both incidents which happened to have involved England players.
Sadly, (although not all of their fans are like this) Australia were the team England were facing on both occasions when the racist incident happened. The first case was when former left-arm spinner Monty Panesar was subjected to taunts.
The Aussies, could turn around and site this incident down to sledging, but to make an alleged insulting remark about someone’s heritage is sledging? Would you disagree? The other incident was this summer and that involved England’s new-found gem Joffra Archer.
Archer who has an English father, it’s alleged was racially abused by a fan at Old Trafford. Admirably the ground staff and security were able to eject the man swiftly.
Here are just some of the examples of sport’s racism problem. Thought sport’s problem with racism had gone? Sadly, we have all been pretty much fooled.