Racism in Soccer


Source: Reuters

Jacob Sanchez, Writer

In December 2019, spectators of the Manchester derby, one of the most intense soccer derbies not only in England, but around the world, were startled for reasons not involving the events during the game. Fans around the world were distraught due to the monkey gestures and noises that were done by a Manchester City fan. 

This incident restarted conversations about racism throughout English soccer. It has been a problem for years before this. In heated matches between club teams throughout the country, there have been countless instances where players have been abused on the soccer field verbally, and physically where they have been hit by cups and other types of items by fans. 

Following the 2018/19 soccer season, Kick It Out, an organization created to try and stop discrimination throughout the game of soccer, released statistics regarding racist comments through social media. They stated that “there was a shocking increase in the levels of race hate and homophobic abuse across social media.” Furthermore, they report that, “71% of those questioned also said they had witnessed racist comments on social media directed at a footballer. 51% of fans had also witnessed racism directed at a fan of a different team to theirs on social media.” 

English soccer fans have been criticized for the racist remarks that they make against players of other nations, and surprisingly to their own National team. This was evident last summer after England tragically missed out on their first international trophy since the 1966 world cup. English fans harshly criticized and racially abused the three dark skinned English players that missed the final three penalties, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka.  

Following the final, Bukayo Saka responded to the hate that he has received, exclaiming that soccer should be about passion no matter what race, religion, or ethnicity someone is. “There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society”, Saka said on an Instagram post following the final.

Like Saka said, the exclusion of these racist chants and comments will let fans remember why they enjoy the sport, for the passion, the unexpected and roller coaster events during the game, and the unity between fans, no matter who they are.  

Saka, like the several other English players who received hate online, were quickly greeted with comments filled with kindness and appreciation by former players, passionate fans and others. 

With the mass support that has been given to these English players, there needs to be a continued trend of support against racism in soccer not only in the UK but throughout the world so that one day, as Saka hoped, “love always wins.”