Racism and football
Football, on its own, hardly lit up televisions this season, incidents of racism on the other hand have.
The 2011-12 English Premier League (EPL) football season will forever be remembered for all the wrong reasons. While the football on display has hardly lit up the televisions this season, other incidents on and off the pitch have revived the long-standing controversy of racism among players and supporters.
The embarrassing developments first occurred in a league match in October 2011 between rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, in which the latter’s Luis Suarez allegedly racially abused the former’s Patrice Evra, a coloured player. Suarez later admitted to calling him a “negro”. He was subsequently banned for eight matches by the Football Association (FA) across all domestic competitions.
Perhaps even more shameful for FA was Chelsea and then England captain John Terry’s supposed racist slurs against Queens Park Rangers Anton Ferdinand, in a match between the two clubs mere days after the Suarez-Evra row. This incident was even more appalling given the fact that Anton’s older brother, and Evra’s club-mate Rio Ferdinand partnered Terry in the heart of England’s defence for years. A criminal case was subsequently launched against him, which will reach its verdict this July. In the meantime, and after months of deliberations, the FA sacked Terry as England captain.
These incidents have damaged the reputation of the sport not only in England, but also around the world, as this horrendous plague has haunted the sport globally. Critics argue that the world governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has been very soft on this issue and has not done enough to stamp racism out of the game.
Numerous awareness campaigns like ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Football Against Racism in Europe’ have repeatedly failed in dealing with this problem, while supporters have also played their part in many Eastern European countries by chanting monkey noises and throwing banana skins towards black players. Now is the time for relevant authorities to come down hard on such perpetrators, and clamp out this menace to preserve the love and admiration for the world’s most popular sport before it spirals out of control.