Whilst the Premier League have been proactive in tackling the issue since football’s return, it is clear that there is still so much more to do to stamp out racism in football.
Less than a week ago, the Premier League again released a statement underlining their plan to prevent racism.
“The Premier League is making it clear there is No Room For Racism as we continue to work with all our clubs, fans, the FA, EFL, PFA, Kick It Out and the police to tackle discrimination across all areas of football”
“The League’s No Room for Racism campaign demonstrates its continued commitment to equality and diversity, using the power and popularity of the League to oppose racism in football” - Premier League
It is foolish to suggest that football, as one of the most influential industries in the world, cannot directly help to impact change. As the most watched sport worldwide, it certainly has the power to influence everyday conversation and educate many people. To their credit, as part of the No Room For Racism campaign the Premier League have explained what they are doing to help make a difference behind the scenes.
From increasing CCTV coverage at grounds to help identify matchday racism, pressuring social media companies to take a greater stance on the problem of racism online and by showing clear support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the English game by taking the knee before matches, they are clearly taking the necessary action to help promote much needed societal change.
However, this approach needs to be persistent, primarily because we are still so far away from eradicating the problem from football. In the last 48 hours alone, both Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick have been victims of vile racial abuse online.
These specific hate crimes come just a few weeks after a ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ banner flew over the Etihad- a disgusting, planned response designed to directly undermine the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Zaha’s abuser, a 12-year-old boy, has since been charged. Yes, you heard right, 12 years of age. The fact that somebody that young is capable of sending such shocking material is profoundly troubling. Yet what is more worrying is that it is not at all surprising. Sadly, it only highlights just how problematic this issue has become and shows why the task the leading football organisations have is difficult but so incredibly important.
They cannot complete this task alone, however. Everyone has their own part to play. As already said, the Premier League have called on social media companies to help stamp out online abuse. Zaha has since asked for the same thing.
“It is important social media platforms do as they did yesterday and seek out these individuals and remove them. This is not the first time I have received messages like this, nor am I the only player to receive messages like this – it happens every day”, said Zaha on Twitter.
“I want to thank everyone for the love and support but enough is enough! It is not enough to be disgusted by these messages I received and move on. It isn’t enough to just say #notoracism. We need action, we need education, things need to change".
Whilst companies like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. can work to eliminate abuse online, we too can help to initiate change. What is concerning is that the abovementioned incidents took place over a very short period, at a time where the English game is doing more to raise awareness about the issue of racism than it ever has done. That itself shows how willing some ‘supporters’ are to act on their unexplainable prejudices.
As fans who love the beautiful game, it is our duty to try to educate others to reflect on their discrimination, so that everyone can enjoy football freely. The examples of racism here are ones that have gained national attention, unfortunately, one can only imagine the number of cases unheard of from lower down the footballing hierarchy. We therefore have a shared responsibility, from grassroots level and above, to highlight why football- in addition to society- should never tolerate that sort of irrational, inhumane behaviour.
Of course, we all know that the approach should not only apply to football as we have a societal duty also. The important thing is that we work together. Quite simply, we all have so much more to do.