It doesn’t seem that difficult to imagine that racism still exists in football – as it does in so many other areas of life. Our country is so divided with the media using language that separates people, one individual from another and one group from another.
Responses to Brexit in the media have exaggerated differences between people, at a time when efforts should have been made to draw them back together. Some elements of the press have exaggerating these differences for their own agendas and this has created a new breed of intolerance, ignorance and racist attacks and comments.
Twice in recent weeks we have heard news of comments and actions directed at black footballers, minimising the great successes of the Kick it Out campaign over recent years.
The Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling received verbal abuse at Chelsea on Saturday and, last week the Arsenal player, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown at him from the crowd at Tottenham. Really – how can people be so stupid?
What do the perpetrators of these unpleasant actions think of as they perform them – surely, they are not thinking of themselves as football fans and supporters. Perhaps some of the following are in their head space.
- The player will play less well if I racially abuse them.
- My team is more likely to win.
- The people around me in the crowd will respect me.
- I want to be banned from going to football matches for life.
- I want a criminal record.
Is there a likely positive outcome – well frankly, no. I just hope the authorities (football, police and judiciary) do their stuff, catch the culprits and make the necessary example of them, to discourage others from acting similarly?
And not to let the media off their part in this – we must start to heal the rifts in our society not exaggerate them. Every person, no matter what their difference, deserves respect, value, tolerance and acceptance.