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Racism in football. the heartbreaking truth

Racism in Football: The Challenges ahead

The ugly within The Beautiful Game always surfaces when a team loses. England witnessed it during this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament when three young England players – Marcus Rashford, Jaydon Sancho and Bukayo Saka – missed from the penalty spot. It’s seen across football and sport globally, we explore the how and the why and who’s responsible. 

Racism in football - euro 2020 - FA -England - Marcus Rashford - Raheem Sterling - Sport - European Sports - Kick it out - social media platforms - football fans

"Almost 3 in four British people believing racism in football is an serious issue"

English football is consumed by racism and hatred. Can the cycle be broken?

The Guardian says the recent wave of social media abuse – directed primarily at prominent black footballers – follows a well-worn pattern. Public figures are quick to offer their condemnation and “then, like any wave, the anger subsides. The news cycle gets bored. Racism carries on, and so does everyone else. Until the next wave, at least.”

The article asks: Can the cycle ever be broken? There have been calls for greater vigilance from social media platforms, with the government threatening tech companies with criminal sanctions and fines. But there are many factors to racism with football and sport as a whole that need to be addressed.

According to the paper, to a large extent the problem is one of data and intelligence. 

 “We don’t have a taxonomy of offenders,” says Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick it Out. “We’re aware that there are kids doing this because they’re bored. There are people who don’t know better. People who have extremist views, people who want to put off opponents, people from outside the UK who think they’re not going to be caught. For all we know, some of it might be automated bots. What we don’t know is the volume of each category.”

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Dr Mark Doidge says football fans are often an easy scapegoat for far broader social problems.

“Historically, football fans have been demonised,” he says. “They’re invariably seen as violent or racist. Whereas in reality, football fans come from all walks of life. And it’s a very convenient excuse to blame things on football fans that are happening at a wider level.”

The paper says this is a problem that goes well beyond football and “encompasses the criminal justice system, the hegemony of Big Tech, the dereliction of our politics and the way we talk to each other.”

They say the “solutions, too, must be equally wide-ranging: from the banning order and the boycott to the block button and the coordinated political campaign.”

The article concludes there is still grounds for optimism, suggesting football could be the root of the solution for ending racism in society. 

Read the full article English football is consumed by racism and hatred. Can the cycle be broken? By Jonathan Liew on The Guardian 

Racism in football - euro 2020 - FA -England - Marcus Rashford - Raheem Sterling - Sport - European Sports - Kick it out - social media platforms - football fans

Racism in sport: why it comes to the surface when teams lose

The Conversation writes one of the worst things about the racism  Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were subjected to, is how predictable it was. 

The article says racism has long been found in European sports and “is intensified when players of colour are put in the spotlight during major international competitions.” 

The article notes it wasn’t only English players who experienced racism and discrimination during the Euro 2020 tournament – saying “racist abuse resurfaces constantly.” 

There has been a massive increase in visibility and popularity of sports thanks to TV, radio and the internet and through that, the way fans relate to players has intensified, according to the article. 

“Athletes become the face of a nation, and many of us pin patriotic hopes, fears and frustrations on them.”

When visibly diverse teams win world cups it is seen as an anti-racist triumph but the celebrations only last as long as they win. Research has shown that when visibly diverse teams lose, existing exclusionary and racist nationalist undercurrents rise to the surface, manifesting as denial that players of colour belong to the nation. If the team is not “us”, then “we” didn’t lose. It wasn’t the nation, or “my” people that failed, it was this interloper.

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Racism and reality

Such abuse is a particularly ugly mix of grief, fandom, patriotism, rage and scapegoating. In the case of the English players, it denies the reality of their birth, citizenship and cultural upbringing in England – and the history that has made the country, and Europe more widely, a profoundly mixed and ethnically diverse space. 

Read the full article Racism in sport: why it comes to the surface when teams lose by Rachel Anne Gillett on The Conversation

More Euro 2020 racist abuse came from UK than other countries and 99% were not anonymous, says Twitter

Racism in football - euro 2020 - FA -England - Marcus Rashford - Raheem Sterling - Sport - European Sports - Kick it out - social media platforms - football fans

"Society always looks for a scapegoat when things aren’t going very well"

Tackling racism in football starts with the social platforms that allow it to thrive

MSN.com says in the months since the Euro 2020 final, police have so far arrested 11 people as part of the hate crimes investigation into the messages – 207 out of 600 reports of racist comments assessed as criminals. 

Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of the equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, says things are worse than what they were five years ago. 

“Our statistics show that reports of racism doubled over the past two years, and the reality is that we’re living in a period of regression that often correlates with the economic cycle of people feeling poorer and looking for someone to blame. People know it’s wrong to throw a banana at a player in their ground and that it’s policed, but actually, you can throw a digital banana at someone on Twitter with virtually no consequences.”   

This evolution of football racism from the terraces and stadiums to online spaces cannot be separated from the wider political climate, points out Dr Thomas Fletcher, chair of Leeds Beckett University’s race equality and diversity forum.

“I think there has been, up until now, a certain reluctance, particularly among the Government to grab the wider issue of racism by the scruff of the neck,” he says.

“These recent incidents in football against the background of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer have contributed to this crescendo of online racism, and I’m not convinced the Government is actually committed to addressing it for the right reasons – there’s a lot of finger-pointing between the FA, the Government, law enforcement and the social media giants over whose responsibility it is.” 

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The article says the primary accountability lies with the tech giants to create offender profiles of the kinds of people abusing players in order to better understand why they do it and develop more effective regulation policies, Mr Bhandari suggests.

“In order, it starts with the social media companies, because they have the technology at their disposal to work out who these people are. If you want to enact change, swift and transparent data reporting is what we need to drive policy.

“Secondly, it’s the Government because they’ve got the power to regulate and make laws. Thirdly, it’s football, because football doesn’t have the power to make laws and it doesn’t own technology.”

Making social media less racism-friendly is by no means an overnight solution for the UK’s wider societal race and ethnicity divisions, but silencing the echo chambers and networks that normalise hate is a productive start.

Read the full article Tackling racism in football starts with the social platforms that allow it to thrive by Rhiannon Williams on MSN.com 

Deep Dive

More Euro 2020 racist abuse came from UK than other countries and 99% were not anonymous, says Twitter

https://news.sky.com/story/more-euro-2020-racist-abuse-came-from-uk-than-other-countries-and-99-were-not-anonymous-says-twitter-12377977

Twitter to introduce autoblocking after Euro 2020 racist abuse

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/twitter-to-introduce-autoblocking-after-euro-2020-racist-abuse/ar-AAN9yyF?ocid=BingNewsSearch

Almost 3 In 4 Brits Agree Racism Is A Serious Issue In Football

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/football-racism-england-euros_uk_61110a84e4b041dfbaac34d8

Racism in sport: An old adversary that never goes away

https://www.sportanddev.org/en/article/news/racism-sport-old-adversary-never-goes-away

UK ‘By Far’ Largest Origin Of Racist Tweets Following Euro 2020 Final

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/uk-by-far-largest-origin-of-racist-tweets-following-euro-2020-final/

Racist abuse faced by celebrities like Marcus Rashford in Euro 2020 help boost workplace diversity initiatives

https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/news/racist-abuse-faced-by-celebrities-like-marcus-rashford-in-euro-2020-help-boost-workplace-diversity-initiatives

Tackling racism in football starts with the social platforms that allow it to thrive

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/technology/tackling-racism-in-football-starts-with-the-social-platforms-that-allow-it-to-thrive/ar-AANjbhi?ocid=BingNewsSearch

Premier League introduces League-wide bans in new measures to tackle discrimination

https://www.voice-online.co.uk/sport/premier-league/2021/08/11/premier-league-introduces-league-wide-bans-in-new-measures-to-tackle-discrimination/

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2021/08/18/fa-rent-boy-homophobic-slur-billy-gilmour/

Racism in football - euro 2020 - FA -England - Marcus Rashford - Raheem Sterling - Sport - European Sports - Kick it out - social media platforms - football fans

Racism in Football: The Heartbreaking Truth. Can the FA break the cycle?

The ugly within The Beautiful Game always surfaces when a team loses. England witnessed it during this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament when three young England players – Marcus Rashford, Jaydon Sancho and Buyako Saka – missed from the penalty spot. It’s seen across football and sport globally, we explore the how and the why and who’s responsible.

Read More »

Quick Facts

Racism in association football is the abuse of players, officials, and fans because of their skin colour, nationality, or ethnicity. Some may also be targeted because of their association with an opposing team. However, there have been instances of individuals being targeted by their own fans.
 

Every year, Kick It Out publishes a summary of the reports of discrimination the organisation has received during the season.

Below you can find out the latest statistics on the incidents reported to us every season – whether it’s in grassroots, non-league, the professional game or online.

https://www.kickitout.org/pages/faqs/category/reporting-statistics

 

Kick It Out was established as a campaign with the brand name ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ in 1993 and as an organisation in 1997. The organisation works within the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.
 
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