Once we talked about the actual sporting activity, now this has simply become the peripheral to the political statement, racism, trade unionism and society that fill the pages and internet. Football seems to be becoming a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. Today’s sportsmen and women are becoming more known for their off-field antics than those on the pitch.
One of the most recent incidents was involving referee Mark Clattenburg, who presided over Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to Manchester United earlier this month in which he sent off Branislav Ivanović and Fernando Torres. He was then confronted by a furious Mikel after the game where he was accused of calling the Nigerian a ‘monkey’. Clattenburg will know by the end of this week whether he will face a Football Association charge after Chelsea’s claim that the referee used “inappropriate language” towards John Obi Mikel.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive, Gordon Taylor says the union wants tougher penalties for racist abuse including making it potentially a sackable offence, culprits ordered to attend awareness programmes and a form of the ‘Rooney rule’ to boost the number of black coaches and managers.
Taylor’s response comes after Reading striker Jason Roberts, a member of the PFA’s management committee, expressed frustration that his recommendations had not been acted on.
Taylor outlined the PFA’s action plan in a statement to the Press Association. The plan calls for:
1 Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents.
2 Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness programme for culprits and clubs involved.
3 An English form of the ‘Rooney rule’ – introduced by the NFL in America in 2003 – to make sure qualified black coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.
4 The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.
5 Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts (and therefore potentially a sackable offence).
6 To not to lose sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.
Taylor also called for unity in the wake of some players considering forming a breakaway organisation for black players.
Earlier this year, after fans of Porto spent a game racially abusing Mario Balotelli, a black striker who plays for Manchester City, UEFA fined the Portuguese club a mere £16,700. Incredibly, it then fined the English side £25,000 for what it apparently saw as the more heinous crime of leaving the dressing room a minute late for the second half. The Russian Football Union, meanwhile, was fined £24,000 after many of its fans directed monkey chants at Theodor Gebre Selassie, a black Czech Republic defender, during this summer’s European Championships. In comparison, during the same competition Nicholas Bendtner, a Danish player, was fined £80,000 for wearing inappropriate underpants.
In a recent ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror it was shown that the majority of people (57%) said it would be impossible to eliminate racism from football but nearly two-thirds (62%) said harsher penalties for racist behaviour would reduce the number of racist incidents.
Personally it seizes to amaze me that in 2012 people can be so ignorant towards different races and cultures.
In my personal opinion I think it’s hard to fathom that in the 21st Century this is such a prominent problem. I think the only way to combat this issue is to create a harsher punishment for those who act prejudice towards others. If people work together and report those who use offensive and racist behaviour in sport, we will hopefully be able to abolish racisms from sport all together.
What do you think? Is racism in football something we just need to accept? Do we need to enforce harsher punishments? Comment and let me know your thoughts
Written by Cara-Leigh Heasman