The problem of racism and football in England – part 1

It is no secret that racism is still alive and kicking and that campaigns such as, “Kick It Out,” still have a lot of work to do. No matter how much societies like this try to make a difference, it appears nearly impossible to kick racism out of football.

All one has to do is look no further than a few weeks back to when amateur footage of Chelsea fans in Paris refusing to let a black man on the underground train before chanting, “We’re racist and that’s they way we like it,” was released.

The culmination and quick succession of incidents of racist abuse have made football and racism appear intertwined. However, this is quite simply not the case. These aren’t football fans that are racists. These people are racists that just so happen to be football fans. So does football attract racist fans and players?


Let’s face it. Football and abuse are intertwined. They are! I remember going to a Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge against West Bromwich Albion. Everything was going well. We were winning 1-0 before half-time thanks to a goal from Samuel Eto’o.

Fast forward 40 minutes and my uncle and I have to exit to make sure we get to the tube early. At this point, Chelsea were losing. Just before we left, the two boys in front of me – who couldn’t have been older than seven and ten – started calling the referee names that you wouldn’t expect.

Their mum simply turned to them and said, “I know he’s a t*ss*r but..”. What shocked me was that their mum didn’t reprimand them for embarrassing her in public, being rude or swearing; because I know that when I was seven and at another Chelsea game when someone called the referee something rude and I did the same as him, I was nearly killed from the stare that my father gave me.

Abuse is intertwined with football nowadays! The person that goes in studs up on you is an idiot and the kid that thinks he’s Lionel Messi is an arrogant so-and-so.

So is it simply a parenting problem? Are parents irresponsible in letting their children attend games that are bound to have a toxic environment? If parents do not correct children for being abusive at games, it could lead to racism.

Once the abuse of someone starts, there is nothing stopping them from going, “you idiot,” to, “you black idiot,” because verbal abuse is usually about picking on the qualities or characteristics of the person and using that to insult them.

If parents teach their children that the beautiful game is for all, it could stop children from growing into racist fans and players. I have a friend who knew a Millwall fan and that Millwall fan claimed that he and his friends weren’t racist, they just pick up on the first thing they notice about someone and use that to abuse them.

Football, especially at a lower level, can be a platform for abuse and a place for people to vent out their frustrations. From the early days of football to about the late 1980’s, footballers were predominantly white in England.

In an abusive environment, if a black player injures a white player what are these abusive fans going to pick on? If we had as big a campaign on abuse as we did for racism, we would stop football from being an abusive environment and stop racism. Or will we?

What is the solution? Do you only allow over 18s at games because their minds are mature enough to not be influenced by others? No, because this would not only not allow children to attend matches of their loved club which is ridiculous; are all racist fans are under 18?

I could conclude and say that in order to stamp out racism, we need to stamp out all forms of abuse firstly, and that there should be harsher punishments on abuse could stamp out racism. I could also conclude that parents need to be more responsible when taking their children to football games.

However, the problem of racism in England runs deeper than this because the attitude of racism is there in the first place. What has to be questioned are the origins of racism in England and how it manifested in football in England.

The Author

Ayo Anibaba

I am a 17 year old, unbiased, armchair analyser. I just so happen to be a Chelsea fan and an aspiring journalist. I like to think that I am a realist. Attempting to get a wider view of what is going on in the world of football.

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