Over the past few years, Association football has seen tremendous improvement in most aspects of the game if not all. The modification in the rules, the kind of soccer Jerseys used, the type of soccer Balls and Boots ; often designed to suit the turf (either natural, artificial or Astroturf ), the Video Assistant Referee(VAR) , the ‘goal line technology’ and even the architecture modules of the Stadia. However one aspect of the game that has maintained its resilience in the face of the huge changes is the issue of racial abuse and Fascism.
Truth be told, some thirty years ago, Fascism and racial abuse was more common than it is today in football. All over the world there were several instances of abuse not only on the part of the fans, but fellow players also became instruments of racial abuse. Football was plague with bigger challenges such as hooliganism and did not bother much as racial abuse was comparatively the lesser of the two evils. More alarming was the fact that players of different races and background could not venture some parts of the world in pursuit of a football career. This situation marred the beautiful game till FIFA and other bodies were forced to intervene making strict policies and implementing stringent measures , embarking on a ‘zero tolerance’ to racial abuse. The campaign was effective to some point and led to a drastic decline in terms of football abuse. Many years have rolled by and just when we are beginning to enjoy the sport we love, another shade of fascism has popped up its head.
In Europe, Italy has been in the lime light for a while as issues of fascism keep bubbling up within intervals, adding up to the growing list of incidents within the past five to six years. African players lead the list of victims in Italy who have suffered racial abuse, with Napoli Centre-Back Kalidou Coulibaly being the most recent of them all ,as he endured yet another during the match against Inter Milan last week after the Senegalese saw a red card. French duo of Lillian Thuram and Patrick Viera , Kelvin Prince Boateng , Mario Ballotelli, Sulley Muntari are amongst the players who have had to endure horror moments during their time in the serie A. England is not too innocent on this matter despite very few cases being recorded in recent times, but with the current trend of reports making headlines, things are not looking too palatable for a country whose soccer league has been touted as the most watched and remains the dream destination for any player. Looking back at history, a lot of instances quickly comes to mind. Paul Canoville, Chelsea Football club’s first black player who was described as a ‘fucking wog’ by fans, only because he broke into the first team. Sol Campbell, who later grew to become English National soccer team captain endured hard times too, and Former French Captain Marcell Desailly who saw harsh comments from Commentator Ron Atkinson while plying his trade at Chelsea football club in 2004 and Patrick Evra who was racially abused by Luis Suarez in 2012.
Fast tracking to this year, another trend of Fascism and Racist abused has gathered under the clouds. Gunners striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has a banana thrown at him by a Tottenham supporter and Police are still investigating alleged abuse aimed at Raheem Sterling by Chelsea fans as reported by Daily mail. West ham united are also reviewing a fresh video footage of a fan racially abusing Liverpool‘s Mo Salah during a league game. It’s a bit surprising to have these conditions prevailing in a League who has 25% of its players being black or from other ethnic backgrounds outside England. In a recent study and survey conducted by Equality Organization, Kick it out, It also came to light that 40% of racist cases in England were not reported only exposing us to the greater danger that could spring up. From their findings as well, Peru recorded the most cases of Fascism and racist abuse-77%, with the global figure of pegged at 54%. Football has accomplished much more than creating soccer heroes, it has erased visible differences that could have bred conflict and distorted unity. It has created communal and worldwide solidarity and we only hope that the architects of Football, FIFA and the Football Associations will come out of their shell and together with one accord we will fight to conquer one of Football’s greatest enemies. After all, the game is the reason why the players, fans, stadiums and the officials exist.
By: Dampte-Larbi Godfred|Univers Sports|universnewsroom.com