Racism in football still alive and well in 2019

Juventus' Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo (C-L) comforts Juventus' Italian forward Moise Kean at the end of the Italian Serie A football march Cagliari vs Juventus on April 2, 2019 at the Sardignia Arena in Cagliari, after Cagliari's fans threw projectiles at him following his goal.

Juventus' Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo (C-L) comforts Juventus' Italian forward Moise Kean at the end of the Italian Serie A football march Cagliari vs Juventus on April 2, 2019 at the Sardignia Arena in Cagliari, after Cagliari's fans threw projectiles at him following his goal.

AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The beautiful game is no stranger to racism and prejudice, be it from fans at the stadium, social media or players on the pitch. 

Italian international and Juventus forward Moise Kean was the latest high-profile professional to experience on-field racism, which proves that this appalling behaviour is still alive and well in professional football, especially in Europe.

Kean (19) was racially abused from the stands as Juventus beat Cagliari 2-0 on Tuesday, 2 April.

Most black and African players in top European leagues, both past and present have, at some point in their careers, been on the receiving end of racial abuse during games.

Antics like, throwing bananas at players of colour, ‘monkey chants' and racist banners are just a few examples of what some players experience in Europe.

All the top football leagues in Europe, including the Italian Serie A, LaLiga, the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, have all had much-publicised incidents of racism in the modern era.

web_photo_Mario_Balotelli_13072016

File: Former Milan forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and AS Roma at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Italy, 14 May 2016.

The treatment of Cameroon football legend and former FC Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o during a La Liga fixture against Real Zaragoza in 2006, was one incident that European football would rather forget as it remains one of the most disgusting examples of racism to ever take place on the football pitch.

Eto'o was subject to intense racist chanting from a portion of Zaragoza fans, which led to the former Real Madrid and Barca attacker saying to the referee, “No mas" (No more) as he attempted to walk off the pitch.

It was clear to all who saw this incident that this was an ongoing occurrence for the player, which had at the time, taken its toll on the Cameroon captain.

The treatment of Cameroon football legend and former FC Barcelona striker Samuel Eto during a LaLiga fixture against Real Zaragoza in 2006 was one of the first examples of racism in the modern football era.

In recent memory, the likes of Mario Balotelli, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jerome Boateng, Dani Alves, and Raheem Sterling were all subject to in-game racist attacks which eventually went viral on social media and went on to make mainstream media headlines.

Paris Saint-Germain fullback Dani Alves had a banana thrown at him while taking a corner kick, which he eventually peeled and ate.

A reaction that sent social media into a total frenzy in 2014.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino recently stated that racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either.

“FIFA stands together with Prince Gouano, Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, as well as any other player, coach, fan or participant in a football match who has suffered from racism, whether at the highest professional level or in a school playground. Racism needs to end. Full stop.“

FIFA in recent years has been criticised by fans and players for not taking any ‘real’ action in dealing with racism. 

File: Queens Park Rangers' English defender Anton Ferdinand (L) avoids shaking hands with Chelsea's English defender John Terry (R) before the English Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea at Loftus Road in London, England on September 15, 2012.

File: Queens Park Rangers' English defender Anton Ferdinand (L) avoids shaking hands with Chelsea's English defender John Terry (R) before the English Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea at Loftus Road in London, England on September 15, 2012.

AFP

The football authority and some European football associations have in the past, put together various campaigns like KickItOut and SayNo to fight racism but nothing seems to have worked.

Former England captain and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand famously refused to support the KickItOut campaign after his younger brother, Anton was racially abused by former Chelsea player John Terry.

Racism is a foul, nauseating and hideous beast that just won't die, both on the pitch and off it.

It is something that cannot be sugar-coated either, though many have tried to do so in the football fraternity.

It will not go away on its own.

The mere fact that some fans and players feel it appropriate to boo and chant prejudices at players on the pitch, under the guise of banter, is not healthy for world football and the more it continues the more the game will suffer. 

Professional footballers, fans and football authorities need to actively set the example, and not sit back and let this disease ruin the beautiful game any longer.

In the words of Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

- Travis Richards

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eNCA