“Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse….I did yesterday too.
Football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone and we shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame ….ladies and gentlemen, it’s 2019 instead of going forward we are going backwards and I think as players we need to unify and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone “ – Rumelu Lukaku
That is an excerpt from Inter Milan Forward Romelu Lukaku ‘s message on Racism in football after he was racially abused at Cagliari .This was not the first time Cagliari fans have been found abusing black players racially, Just last season, Moise Kean, formerly of Juventus was the victim. He was subjected to racist abuse after he scored for the “Old Lady” in Cagliari.
Other players like Blaise Matuidi, Sulley Muntari and a host of black players have all suffered racist abuse at Cagliari. However, it seems the “Federazione Italiana Giouco Calcio” (F.I.G.C), Italy’s football governing body is doing very little towards combating racism in football, although there have been periodic fines meted out to teams whose fans played the racist card by the Federation. It is a fact that these punishment clearly does not deter these fans from subjecting players to racial abuse.
Cagliari fans may be the most accused sect of supporters in Italy who engage in racism but, are they the only fans in Italy who do so? On boxing day, 26th December, 2018 last season, Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly who also plies his trade at S.S.C. Napoli was the victim. The Senegalese defender was racially abused by Inter Milan fans when the Nerazurri hosted the Partenopei at the San Siro stadium in Milan. It is very unfortunate for the fans of a club of such calibre that prides itself as being “Fratelli del Mundi” (brothers of the world) to stoop down low to act like that.
A club that boasts of welcoming every player from any corner of the globe, a club that was formed out of” Associazione clubbe Milano” (A.C.Milan) due to the former’s negligence to sign non-italian talents. A club that claims to be “internazionale” (international ) in nature. Italy may have had its fair share of racism related issues on footballers but it is not the only European country with racism issues.
Manchester City forward, Raheem Sterling was at the receiving end of racial abuse last season when his side clashed with Chelsea FC in London last season. Paul Pogba of Manchester United had his own share of racism after he missed his spot kick against Wolves when the two teams played each other at the Molineux earlier this season. Tammy Abraham of Chelsea FC had a gulp of the bitter wine called racism after missing his spot kick in the penalty shoot out at the UEFA Super Cup Final against Liverpool in Istanbul.
These examples also buttress the point that racism is a canker not only in Italy but in the Queen’s land as well. In May 2016, Alexander Gauland of Germany‘s anti -immigration party, Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) openly stated that Germans like defender Jerome Boateng as a footballer but no German would prefer to have him as a neighbour. Mesut Ozil’s decision to retire from the German national team in 2018 was mainly due to issues of racism he claimed to have suffered due to his Turkish descent.
In April 2014, Dani Alves, then playing for Barcelona suffered racist abuse when his side played Sevilla at the “Madrigal”. A banana was thrown at him as he prepared to take a corner. His reaction to this abuse was however deemed brilliant. He took a bite of the banana before effecting the kick. This reaction made him a hero in the eyes of many football greats like Gary Lineker who showered praises on the Brazilian. After the game, his Brazilian teammate Neymar tweeted “Take that Bunch of racists. We are all Monkeys, so what?” Sevilla handed the culprit a life ban from their stadium, a worthy punishment from the club.
In December 2012, fans of Russian club Zenit St-Petersburg demanded in a letter that their club should exclude all black players from the team though this demand was not heeded to by the club, it shows us how far we have to go in the fight against racism in football .There are so many countless instances where players have been racially abused, but very little has been done globally to curb it by the game’s governing bodies. Racism in football has become a canker to the beautiful game and until something is done about this, it will ruin the game. It will also affect the integrity of professional black footballers. These black footballers are as equal humans as their white counterparts.
This is very important taken into consideration that one of the best footballers to have ever graced the game, Edson Arantes de Nascimento popularly known as “Pele” was a black player.
The time has come for FIFA, UEFA and other Football associations in Europe to finally do something and get rid of racism in Football. Football is a game for everyone, it is the world’s most popular sport and therefore must have nothing to do with racism. Let’s all kick it out, Racism has no place in the beautiful game !!!
By: Justin Frimpong
Level 300 Communication Studies