Racism has been a long-running issue in sport, with many top level incidents occurring over the past few years. Realistically, how can racism be punished in sport? Should the clubs be punished for the act of an individual?
The topic of racism in sport has always been a problematic area; a definitive punishment has never been enforced, with several incidents receiving various punishments. Most notably, Luis Suarez, the Liverpool FC striker received a seven match ban in 2011, for racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United.
Chelsea captain John Terry has since received a four game ban for a similar offence. Confusion has arisen as to how two incidents that are of the same nature, can result in conflicting punishments.
Many believe that if the act is committed by a fan, then the club should be made to take responsibility of the individual. Conversely, others believe that the only way to punish racism is to remove the small percentage of people that ruin the sport for everyone.
Having spoken to various members of the public, the feedback we received was fairly positive in favour of punishing the club, as opposed to punishing the individual.
A Football fan from Wrexham, Wales said: “I believe that the clubs should be deducted points, handed a large fine, and be made an example of.” This is quite a strong viewpoint, perhaps seeing the club being punished for their actions, fans would think twice about racially abusing opposing players, as their club could suffer serious consequences.
Also thinking along those lines was Joe, 19, from Bristol. He said that: “Clubs should be hit with a heavy fine, and be made to play home matches behind closed doors for a certain period of time, which would hopefully make fans realise what they were doing, and change their ways.”
An opposing argument is to ban individuals from attending matches, or if the player is found guilty, then the club should work together with the authorities to hand the individual a ban. Will, an 18 year old Hull City fan told me that he thinks the individuals are to blame for tarring the sport. “I think clubs should hand a huge ban to their player, and fine them a significant fine, to make them aware of how serious the offence is.”
Overall, it is difficult to say how to punish culprits of racism; obviously a small reprimand is nowhere near enough of a punishment. The main way to fully punish people is to hit them where it hurts, firstly by not allowing them to play or spectate the sport they love, and secondly, hit them in the pocket, and impose a considerable fine. To avoid further confusion as mentioned previously, the powers at be should introduce a ‘one size fits all’ ban. Therefore, meaning that there is no longer a grey area regarding the punishment of racism in sport.
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