In the run up to Euro 2012 there is growing concern about racial abuse. Theo Walcott’s and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s families have decided not to travel to the tournament and Sol Campbell has advised fans to watch it at home. UEFA have tried to assure people that they have a “zero tolerance” policy on racism and that racism is “only a problem at domestic level”.
I feel there is a lot of hypocrisy regarding racism in football. Europe’s governing body declare they have zero tolerance but then in the same breath admit there are domestic racism problems in Poland and Ukraine. Fans will racially abuse players from opposing teams but will cheer a goal scored by one of their team’s black players only a few moments later, seemingly ignorant to the fact that their abuse will be heard by and affect their own players too.
The problem does not lie solely with racism, but also with sexism and homosexuality. Kick it Out and The Justin Campaign are doing their bit to fight the problem but more needs to be done to by other organisations.
If UEFA are aware of racial issues at any level they should commit to their “zero tolerance” policy and enforce strict and severe punishments. Not only should fans be punished as individuals, but UEFA should punish the clubs and FA’s in charge – maybe this would lead to clubs and national governing bodies tackling the problem head on instead of putting on a bravado.
There is no room for racism or any discriminatory behaviour in modern society, and especially not in a sporting environment. Athletes, and all people, should be judged on their merits not their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Here’s to a future when we finally have kicked it out!