Racism, along with other hate crimes, has plagued the earth for a very long time. Over the years, a countless number of people have suffered from this treacherous act of discrimination. Documentaries on victims of racial abuse reveal that the effects are holistic, affecting the entire being of the individual. Imagine your surprise when a global uniting giant like football is gradually infiltrated by such horrendous act of evil. The thought of it becoming an instrument and conduit for prejudice and discrimination brings not only the footballing fraternity but the entire world to a critical point.
On Saturday 8th December 2018, Raheem Sterling was allegedly abused racially when Chelsea welcomed Manchester City. Well, some of us did not realize this during the match until a day after when the media reported the story as the player himself narrated his ordeal on social media. This alleged incident of racial abuse was very surprising considering the fact that a similar incident had been witnessed just six days earlier, on 2nd December 2018 when a fan threw a banana at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when Arsenal hosted Tottenham.
A similar incident was recorded in Italy few weeks later when Inter Milan welcomed Napoli on 26th December 2018. During the match, a hat trick of announcement or caution by the stadium announcer could not deter a portion of the home fans from racially abusing Kalidou Koulibaly. Renee Hector of Tottenham Ladies also claimed she was racially abused by an opponent when their team came up against Sheffield on 6th January 2019.
These incessant reports of racial prejudice point to the fact that this canker is becoming cancerous at a frightening rate. I therefore agree with Darren Lewis when he stated in the 14th December 2018’s edition of the “The Mirror” that “Raheem Sterling has sparked a mainstream debate on racism-and we must continue the conversation”.
Blatantly speaking, I am of the unwavering opinion and belief that the major stakeholders of the game have undoubtedly and shamefully failed the game and its beautiful people around the globe. How many of our media be it radio, newspapers or TV have programmes or measures geared towards educating the general public?
For us supporters, we have not been any less disappointing. The mere fact that we can racially abuse the black player in the opponent’s team whilst having a black player in our team only highlights the undeniable deception and hypocrisy deeply rooted and fertilized in our hearts. Take a quick glance at the team sheets of the matches involved in racism and you will see black players at both ends of the field.
How can we criticize the major stakeholders and leave out the clubs and the various football governing bodies or associations? You can almost predict from anywhere in the world, the responses of the clubs and various associations to reports of racism.
You would expect them to release statements condemning the acts and promising to follow up on the case. Well, the latter usually never happens.
Institutions, companies and firms have experts in public relations who draft communiqués consoling victims and families of victims when there is a tragedy involving their organizations. In such messages, you are likely to read or hear the phrase “our hearts go out to the families of the victims”. Truth is, some of these messages may be true and genuine but more often than not, they are not. The only way to determine its genuineness is by closely monitoring to see if the promises contained therein are fulfilled.
It is sad to see hypocritical and passionless steps being taken by our clubs and governing bodies to curb this evil. They react very quickly with empty promises and statements void of keen passion towards the issue. If racial abuses are going to plummet, we need our clubs and football governing bodies to be passionate and uncompromisingly determined to fight this evil. Reports of shenanigans involving leaders of football governing associations and club officials continue to make the headlines at an alarming rate. Who can therefore blame some of us for the lack of faith in their willingness and integrity to handle such a fight?
Honestly, the decision to fine clubs thousands of pounds or euros or give them a two-match stadium ban as a tool for curbing racism is laughable. How can you fine the guy who owns the ocean a cup of water for racially abusing someone? If our football governing bodies were half as determined and committed as Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Eleven and Will in the American thriller series, Stranger Things, we would not have been in this sorry state.
In conclusion, I believe the fight against racism has yielded unsatisfactory results because we have branded it a “colour conundrum”. However, it has never been about white versus black or green versus yellow. It is a fight against hypocrisy, buffoonery and short-sightedness.
We should not forget that racism is classified as a hate crime and if these abuses persist, then all our stadia will turn into crime scenes sooner rather than later. Let me ask, how many of us will pay just to visit crime scenes let alone talk of taking our children along?
Written by: Emmanuel Asare (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Editorial Team: Benjamin Osei-Appiah Araba Sika Abaidoo John Yaw Ansah Jnr