Did they or did they not? This question echoes throughout the English Football Association as investigations into the latest racism offence marred England’s 8-0 win over minnows San Marino.
The English fans allegedly racially abused English defender Rio Ferdinand and his brother, Anton. This came after Rio snubbed an England call up for the match and flew over to Dubai to cover the match as a pundit.
Racism is a familiar enemy in the world of football, having plagued the sport for decades. Recently, however, there has been an outbreak of such cases which could possibly lead to the tarnishing of the beautiful sport.
In club football, not only does the Premier League experience its fair share of racism but top tier European leagues are hindered with such cases, notably in Russia and Italy. The most important question that remains to be answered, of course, is whether will there be an end to such prejudices, or is racism inherent in football?
Football boils with emotions and feelings, an eclectic mixture of joy, anger, nervousness and disappointment. Such feelings come instinctively to the most ardent of fans. Anger, one of the core emotions of football, is one of the causes of this abuse.
What about the players themselves? They are not spared from controversy and are culpable for their actions. In English football alone, two high profile cases rocked the Premier League. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez allegedly racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra while Chelsea’s captain John Terry was accused of racial discrimination against Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand. Both players paid the price and suffered lengthy bans from football.
Steps are being taken to reduce the occurrence of such cases, notably the Kick Racism out of Football campaign. Football coaching clinics accentuate the importance of preventing such prejudice in the sport. Such campaigns to educate must start when footballers are young. The providing of equal opportunities to footballers of various backgrounds- black or white, or even yellow, rich or poor, is crucial to eradicate racism in football.
However, such steps to reduce these discriminations would correct the mind set of football players. As football fans and viewers, onus is on us to be mature in such circumstances.
This stems from everywhere- our homes, workplaces or even places where we play like the football field. Understanding is essential in the road to kick racism out of football. A successful eradication and elimination of racism would require understanding and empathy from both parties.
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