Fighting Racism in Football

Racism continues to be a problem in football, not only in England, but throughout Europe and in other parts of the world. Crowds may boo or jeer at players because of their skin colour or nationality, and religious, nationalistic or politically charged chants and songs are common. Various organisations have been established to combat this spread of xenophobia and racism. The football field should be a place for players and fans to enjoy the game, and these organisations are doing their bit to promote a more sporting spirit.

Show Racism the Red Card

Established in 1996 in England, ShowRacism the Red Card, or SRTRC, is an education charity that aims to use high-profile footballers as anti-racist role models. The charity believes that it can succeed in challenging racism, both on and off the field, through the educational resources and activities it provides for young people.

In 1995,  Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop donated £50 to a local anti-racism charity in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The founder of this charity, Ged Gebby, recognised an opportunity to involve footballers in anti-racism campaigning, and it was out of Gebby and Hislop’s efforts that SRTRC was founded.

Football Against Racism in Europe

From Flickr

From Flickr

 

Football Against Racism in Europe, or FARE, is a network of over 40 groups committed to countering racism and xenophobia in European football. It was established in 1999 after a meeting between various football support groups, players’ unions and football associations, and is officially backed by UEFA, FIFA and the European Commission.

FARE recently participated in a UEFA investigation of racist chanting by Rangers fans, during one of the infamously heated matches between the “Old Firm” Rangers and Celtic teams.

Another factor that brought public attention to FARE was its association with Stand Up Speak Up, another popular and successful anti-racism campaign spearheaded by Arsenal football legend, Thierry Henry.

Stand Up, Speak Up

From Flickr

From Flickr

This European campaign was launched in January 2005 by Thierry Henry, following a spike in racist incidents in European football. One such event, which sparked outrage in the footballing world, was a game during which Real Zaragoza supporters made monkey-like chants and threw peanuts onto the field whenever FC Barcelona player Samuel Eto’o had the ball.

Stand Up Speak Up was symbolized by two interlocked wristbands, one black and one white. Over 5 million of these wristbands were sold, and they provided the primary source of funds for the campaign. All funds raised were divvied out to a variety of initiatives and programs, such as FARE, to raise awareness of and challenge racist behaviour. Support from famous footballers such as Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Adriano and Wayne Rooney helped to promote the campaign and its cause.