Will this latest incident finally kick off some real preventative measures?
We’ve all probably seen it by now; that video of the Chelsea fans kicking a black man off of a metro train and then gleefully singing about how racist they are. It’s disgusting to say the least, but will it finally change anything?
The club have already issued a statement condemning the antics, and have promised to take action, but it won’t end there.
Chelsea have had several chances to correctly address the racism that has surrounded the club in recent years but have fallen flat on every occasion. Not only has John Terry’s brush with Anton Ferdinand been swept under the rug (he’s still club captain) but their fans have, on occasions before this one, been busted for their disgraceful behaviour, too.
Remember this guy? pic.twitter.com/RY5YatFvdd
— Cian Carroll (@CianByName) February 18, 2015
What’s worrying – really worrying – is that there are no solutions to this continued trend of racism. Frequently bans and fines have been dished out, but it’s not enough, and in the end without further checks it will breed more hate from those who misunderstand the notion of ‘free speech’.
It’s not hard to imagine one of these singing fans being found, banned for life, then continuing his hatred of ethnic minorities by blaming them for the fact he isn’t able to go and watch football anymore – instead of reflecting on why his actions landed him in that position. It’s sad, but that’s how it pans out.
But what can you expect from the football bodies that are so institutionally racist? Clubs are still by and large refusing to hire black managers despite 25% of top flight players being of Afro-Caribbean origin, prompting calls for an introduction of the NFL-styled Rooney Rule.
But there are still some who don’t understand why there is a need for the Rooney Rule, believing that it is just pandering to an upset minority. However, when so many mediocre white players go on to become mediocre managers ahead of so many potentially talented black candidates then there is a problem.
The Rooney Rule simply states that a club must interview one candidate from an ethnic minority background. Not hire, simply interview to give them the chance to put their case forward. The fact that there are some that oppose this is frightening, and shows just how far off football is from kicking racism out of football.
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has voiced his frustration at how hard it is for black managers to get an opportunity.
“I’m not going away – and I’m going to keep on talking until things start changing,” said Campbell to the Guardian, but there are far from enough people from all cultural backgrounds willing to speak up.
White people are lucky that the closest they’ll come to experiencing racism is hurt feelings. Reverse racism is a myth that doesn’t exist – particularly in football as non-white people hold absolutely no social or institutional power in the game. The failure to recognise this reflects an inability to recognise just how ingrained racism is into the sport.
English football has gone a long way to eradicating racism on the pitch, but there remains a huge problem off of it that still isn’t being addressed.
Consider this: where is the motivation for national associations to implement mandatory education for people accused of racist behaviour when the penalties aren’t stringent enough? At Euro 2012 the Croatian FA were fined a meagre £65,000 when their fans hurled abuse at Italian striker Mario Balotelli. However, during that same tournament Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined £95,000 for flashing a brand name across his boxer shorts.
It may seem like a ridiculous thing to suggest, but there simply must be educational measures put in place for people caught racially abusing somebody. If racism is something that is learned, then it can be unlearned, too. FIFA and UEFA must work together to combat this with the various Football Associations of Europe to put these measures into place, but will the hard work not be worth it? To finally kick racism out of football instead of just hashtagging it. They’ve never been afraid of hard work before.
It’s important to highlight that the actions of a small minority of fans do not mirror the feelings of the majority of Chelsea supporters, but it is often said that football and society reflect each other. And if that is the case then we are a long way from where we need to be.