Written by Ian Hope
- Several reports of racism in English football since the season started
- Tammy Abraham being the latest player to be targeted online
- QPR under 18`s walk off pitch in Spain after apparent abuse
The English football season is barely two weeks old and we have been inundated with fresh reports of racism in the “beautiful game”. From online abuse to players family members being abused by their own supporters, there has been a flood of reports of racism in football.
In the opening weekend of the season, anti-racism charity Kick It Out reported four separate incidents involving players in the English Football League (EFL).
Fulham`s Cyrus Christie reported his sister was assaulted and racially abused by his own supporters in their defeat away at Barnsley.
Southend United striker, Theo Robinson claimed he was targeted during his sides game with Coventry City that was played at Birmingham City`s St Andrews ground.
Stoke City`s James McClean who has previously been subjected to sectarian abuse was again targeted in his sides home game with Queens Park Rangers.
Barnsley Football Club has reiterated to its supporters to cease in singing a derogatory song about their new centre half, Bambo Diaby.
In the latest incidents, Chelsea`s Tammy Abraham was targeted online after his penalty was saved in the Super Cup Final against Liverpool.
QPR`s under 18 side whilst playing in Spain walked off the pitch in response to receiving racial abuse from opposition players during their game against Seville based side AD Nervion.
Kick It Out stated “Clubs and the football authorities must be relentless in calling out this disgraceful behaviour, and be prepared to issue strong sanctions and education sessions to any supporter involved.”
In 2019 football really should be rid of these type of incidents, but sadly they reflect society today. Online abuse continues to rise due to social media and the apparent lack of policing of it by the global companies running the sites.
Football has done a lot to try to rid itself of hooliganism and the bad old days of previous decades but it appears incidents of racism are on the rise. Kick It Out report at 43% rise in racist abuse last season. Reports of faith-based discrimination – including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism – rose by 75% from 36 to 63, a higher percentage than any other form of abuse during the period.
Football fans are from a cross section of society and the rise in abuse in football is mirrored in a rise in hate crime reported by the Home Office, which many say is linked to Brexit.
Whatever the origins of the abuse, football must be seen to clean up its act. Chelsea Football Club recently suspended six of their supporters for “abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour” towards Manchester City and England forward Raheem Stirling. One supporter was banned for life.
Whilst there is more recognition of the problem and campaigns ongoing such as the #Enough campaign where players boycotted social media for 24 hours, there is much more that can be done.
Some will say that a 24 hour player boycott of social media or the wearing of Kick It Out t-shirts before matches do little to tackle the issue. Tougher penalties on clubs and fans alike should be enforced.
The Kick It Out charity only receive £800,000 per year from FA, Premier League, EFL and the PFA which is a pittance considering that the game is awash with so much money, especially at the top of the pyramid of English football.
Clearly there is a need for stronger penalties on those found guilty of such abuse. That tougher stance comes from clubs, football governing bodies, social media platforms and police.
In 2019 it is safer than ever attending football matches. Gone are the fences, dilapidated old stadiums and hooliganism is on the decline. Over the years clubs improved their grounds and stewarding. CCTV and football banning orders also seemed to make a dent in football violence.
Now it appears that another dark old problem associated with football is rearing its ugly head and requires tackling from all sides by everyone.
Images courtesy of Itv.com