Racism in European Soccer

By Tanveer Kaur

In the last month, three stadium announcements stated that "racist conduct among supporters is interfering with the game." (Photo credit: Laurence Griffiths, Getty Images)

Racism, a problem that has come to the fore in a number of professional sports in recent years, has reportedly resurfaced in the sports world yet again.


Antonio Rudiger, a black defender at Chelsea F.C., was seen protesting to the referee with his hands under his armpits, implying that he had been exposed to racist monkey chants from rival Tottenham fans. To stop play, the referee, Anthony Taylor, utilized a new protocol developed by the governing body of European soccer, UEFA. The new procedure, which was implemented in October, permits the referee to end a game if racist behavior persists after two warnings from a stadium announcer.


In the last month, three stadium announcements stated that "racist conduct among supporters is interfering with the game," a strange, confused, and depressing scene for soccer fans watching on television and in the stands.


This isn't the first time the new protocol has been utilized, and it likely won’t be the last. During the 2018-19 season, which spanned from September to July, Kick It Out, England's anti-racism and pro-inclusion sports organization, released statistics showing that reports of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race increased by 32% from the previous season, from 319 to 422.


Racist abuse hurled at athletes isn't the only issue. Along with racist events, anti-racism organizations have long chastised soccer's regulating bodies for their sluggish reactions and inadequate sanctions, blaming the sport's regulatory bodies for paying ‘lip service’ to the problem but failing to lead in eradicating it. Both FIFA and UEFA, the world's soccer governing bodies, have rebutted those claims, blaming the growth of nationalism and reiterating their own efforts to combat racism.