Racism has plagued the positive image of football around the world for decades. Even in today’s society, where one would hope that this discrimination would be eradicated, it seems that these incidents are more widely recognized because of the way things spread via social media. Recently, West Brom and former France international player, Nicholas Anelka, was banned for five games and charged 80,000 pounds for his “quenelle” gesture at a West Ham game two months ago. The gesture is seen by some to be anti-Semitic in nature. Anelka claimed that the gesture was made in tribute to a comedian friend, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who created the gesture to signify “anti-system.”
In another recent event, former Tottenham, Arsenal and English International Sol Campbell claimed in his new autobiography that the FA was “institutionally racist.” Campbell claims that he should have been the English team captain for 10 years, but was not given the honor due to the color of his skin. “It’s as simple as that. I think the FA wished I was white. I had the credibility, performance-wise, to be captain. I was consistently in the heart of the defence and I was a club captain early on my career,” Campbell writes in his autobiography.
Both the FA and FIFA have strict rules and policies about racism in football. The FA has created a variety of initiatives in order to promote their “Football for Everyone” campaign which advocates for race equality, as well as the Football v. Homophobia issue. Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes, similar to that of Principle 6 in the Olympics, states:
“Discrimination of any kind against a Country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
While these rules & policies are definitely a step in the right direction, some regulations need to also be set in place for the fans of the sport. Many racist incidents occur in the stands during matches and even off the pitch via social media. Researchers have discovered that at least 40% of the 150 black players in the Premier League experienced racial abuse via Twitter. More of these incidents need to be reported to the police so they can take further action with these racist fans, and social media networks need to do a better job with monitoring this sort of correspondence.