Let’s get straight to the point: Racism in football will never go away.
Campaigns such as Kick It Out, Stand up Speak up and Show Racism the Red Card have done their best to drown out the culprits who ruin the beautiful game. However, the reality is that wearing wrist bands and t-shirts isn’t going to go stop racism, and this due to the shambolic way both UEFA and FIFA are run.
It’s amazing how someone like Sepp Blatter can run a huge organization like FIFA. Someone who has insulted nations and consistently declined the chance to update technology is running the biggest football organization in the world, and yet when it comes to racism, the Swiss turns a blind eye and acts like everything is normal, when he knows it’s far from it.
Racism is in every country, but some countries are worse than others. We have seen over the last few years (especially some countries in Eastern Europe) that racial discrimination can be a huge problem for players and fans when attending matches. For example: Why on earth would you give the World Cup, the biggest football tournament in the world to a country like a Russia that had one team’s supporters publicly say that they don’t want ‘any gay or black players in their team?’ Why? How can Blatter allow such despicable acts go unpunished? In a way, it’s like he is promoting it.
Look at Euro 2012 when it was in Poland and Ukraine – a few weeks before the tournament started, BBC watchdog programme Panorama investigated how some supporters would abuse their own players due to the colour of their skin. There were even secret anti-Semitic gang meetings as fans from certain clubs were angry at their manager’s decision to sign Jewish and Muslim players. How can UEFA and FIFA let countries have such racial hatred backgrounds host some of the most high profile tournaments in the world? Racism is a serious matter and needs to be taken into account.
We’ve seen in the past that if fans have been found guilty of racial remarks, the club they support either get a fine or a stadium ban where no fans are allowed to attend the match. If a player is found guilty, they are either fined or banned. This isn’t strong enough to punish racism, as racism is the cancer of football. The game that we all love is being tarnished by a disease which is effectively killing the sport, and the only way to stop the slow death of football is by making the punishments for the culprits as hard as possible.
The obvious punishment in my book will be moving the 2018 World Cup away from Russia, as that will teach the Russian football fans a hard and painful lesson, to stop racism.
Christopher Samba and Roberto Carlos were continuously abused by their own fans in 2012, as both players were heckled with bananas and verbal abuse. A year and a half on, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure was abused by CSKA Moscow fans as they made monkey chants to the midfielder. UEFA said they will ‘investigate the incident’. Why? What needs to be investigated? Everyone has got ears and heard that no chants like that were made to any other player until Toure got the ball, and then fans wonder why the majority of African players reject playing in countries like Russia, as they know they are going to get abused.
We are living in 2013, soon to be 2014 and players are still scared of moving to foreign countries due to the abuse that they could potentially receive from rival and maybe their own fans. This is terrible to see. Football is a sport where you have the opportunity to play in some of the most beautiful cities and stadiums across the world, but some players turn down this chance to save themselves from the mental painful they could suffer from disgusting fans.
If anything, fans and players should be given criminal records or even prison sentences if found guilty of racial abuse. If you work in an office and you make racist remarks to a fellow colleague in an attacking manner, you could get arrested, lose your job and possibly face prison depending on how serious the offence is. Why isn’t that enforced in football? Yes, footballers are high profile celebrities, but their position in the social chain doesn’t give them the right to do what they want and think that they are above the law. If criminal records were dished out to both players and fans for racial abuse, then players and fans will think twice before opening their mouths.
Football is an abusive game; shouting, swearing and rude gestures are part of the sport we love as tensions can run increasingly high. However, abusing fans, referees and players by insulting their ethnic race or religion is something which the majority of fans condemn.
The FA has also been guilty in not doing enough to stop the cancer which is racism. John Terry gets a four match ban and a £220,000 fine for racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. For the same crime, Luis Suarez gets an eight game ban with a £40,000 fine. Where is the consistency in that? The FA should enforce a ten match suspension, and a £150,000 fine if any player is caught racially abusing someone, that way it is the same punishment for everyone who has committed the same crime. The authorities should then get involved and give criminal records to the players. A crackdown like this will benefit everyone involved in the sport.
When I hear that a player/fan has been racially abused, it makes my blood boil as it is a cowardly way to antagonize someone. UEFA and FIFA need to create stronger laws to stop this disease, otherwise, football WILL die.