Racism In European Football

Racism in European football (more commonly known as soccer, or FIFA) is a real thing. Recent studies around Europe show that Italian soccer leads the way with 92% of their fans saying it exists, with England at 91%, the Dutch at 89%, and the French at 87%. While there are some who say that it isn’t really that big of a deal, there are others who claim that it is. Racism—from chants to other problems—are having a negative impact on the players, and other fans, and something needs to be done so that we can get back to what this game is really about.

In January of 2013, AC Milan’s ward Kevin-Prince Boateng was the first player in soccer history to ever walk off the pitch due to the racist chanting. That game was later abandoned. Sometime after that, a referee was forced to stop a match between AC Milan and Roma due to a similar problem. More pressingly, Lazio had to close an entire section (stand) of their stadium for the opening weekend of the Italian soccer season.

This kind of behavior tends to have a rather vicious domino effect on the league. When it becomes a big enough problem that players are actually abandoning their duties to their team (can you blame them?), and the game must be cancelled because of it, this comes back to the fans. They paid money to see these two teams compete, and in most cases, it is impossible to refund the money for the tickets. This also leads fans to reconsider watching games live (i.e buying the tickets), because who want to risk being shorted again?

This doesn’t mean that the soccer leagues aren’t trying to do anything. 40% of English fans feel that the players and clubs are doing a great job combating racism. However, they feel that only 17% of international agencies such as FIFA and UEFA are doing their job. Across Europe abroad, the majority of fans feel that no one is doing enough to combat this alarming problem.

In the end, there may be some who are asking what can you do to truly combat racism? While there have been a handful of ideas and suggestions promoted, how can we be sure any will work? If one thing, the census is clear: we need to try, because this is a big problem.