The aspect of controversy is never far away, especially when it comes to racism in the modern game. Whether it is related to colour, religion or ethnic minority, race is unfortunately a burning issue in today’s footballing world.
Yet there are well known institutions out there that stand up for what is right. Kick It Out raises a number of valid points when it comes to tackling these particular sensitive issues. This anti-racist organisation has been fully committed in tackling racism over the years.
They have come out with their agenda which ensures that racism is tackled head on. In spite of the fact that they are small in number, it has not stopped them from garnering momentum. It has been their unwavering determination to help players and tackle discrimination that has seen their publicity grow. In addition to this, they have been rather outspoken regarding the Rooney Rule. This would allow former players who are black the opportunity to manage in England, which has not come to fruition.
On the other hand, Kick It Out has also been involved with a number of different schools and clubs in order to raise awareness. This has been undertaken for the sole purpose of educating players as a way to change people’s attitudes about racism as well as prejudice. Their voice has been heard far and wide over the last 20 years, especially in the sphere of English football. This was most prominent during the 1980’s when issues of this nature were simply not being addressed.
Take for example John Barnes, a black winger who was a major influence on the Liverpool team in that period. He had to endure a barrage of abuse which culminated in a fan throwing a banana onto the pitch. The iconic image of Barnes back heeling the guilty piece of fruit into touch still remains a symbol that prejudice will not be tolerated.
The racism drum is beating well and truly banged for now. But what are some of the most racist moments in soccer?
10. Hallesche FC
In March 2006, two German teams namely Sachsen Leipzig and Hallesche FC faced each other in a game. This particular match involved a Nigerian midfielder playing for Leipzig by the name of Adebowale Ogungbure.
During the early Noughties, there was an influx of African players and this was seen especially in Germany. Having been on the receiving end of some vitriolic racial abuse from Hallesche fans, the player reacted.
He could not tolerate any more and decided to respond with a Nazi gesture. Unfortunately under German law, one is not allowed to make any type of Nazi salute and the Ogungbure was later arrested. The charges were later dropped. However, some fans decided to create a campaign entitled “Wir sind Ade” or We are Ade-bowale which helped counter racism in the Bundesliga.
9. Dani Alves
One of the most popular clips of the last few years involves Barcelona right back Dani Alves. The marauding Brazilian defender was playing against Spanish opposition Villarreal but was subjected to a fan throwing a banana at him. After it hit the turf, Alves picked up and then took a bite before taking a corner.
Villarreal was later fined around $15,000 for the incident by the Spanish Football Federation. This sparked a global social media drive against racism with a number of different players getting involved. Depicting eating a banana, it was later satirised by the likes of Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez.
8. John Terry
Chelsea centre back John Terry has been involved in a fair few melees but none more so than the one involving him and Anton Ferdinand. During a Chelsea versus QPR game a few years ago, video footage began swarming around the internet. This clip showed Terry saying an alleged racist slur to the brother of former Manchester United defender Rio who is black.
This incident gained plenty of momentum as papers from around the world picked up on it. In an embittered crown court case which lasted four days, former England skipper Terry was found innocent of racial abuse.
7. Luis Suarez
Considered to be one of the most controversial players of the modern era, Luis Suarez found himself in hot water while playing for Liverpool. On the other end was ex-Manchester United left back Patrice Evra. The French international alleged that he had several racist comments hurled at him while playing for the Red Devils at Anfield. This took place in October 2011 and as a result of Evra’s claims, the Uruguayan was deemed to be guilty. The racial abuse charge carried a hefty fine in the region of $90,000, while Suarez was banned from playing for eight matches.
In addition to this, Liverpool was adamant that the FA had got it wrong, as players donned t-shirts with Suarez’s face plastered all over it. This was done as a response to the charges and to defend their player.
However, this did not help matters and in a later game at Old Trafford, it came to a head. It was the first time that Suarez and Evra had crossed paths since this infamous incident. As Suarez went down the line of players he refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand. This was to go down in the history books as yet another controversial moment of the bitter rivalry between both United and Liverpool.
6. Spanish National Team
The end of 2004 was not a wonderful moment for the Spanish national side. They had been involved in not one but two racial situations involving not only the team but the manager at the time. In the first instance, England was supposed to play a harmless friendly that was to take place in Madrid. What later resulted was the vile abuse of several English black players including Ashley Cole as well as Shaun Wright-Phillips. Monkey chants were hurled at both individuals.
Later that year, Spain coach Luis Aragones landed himself in hot water. This was largely in part thanks to geeing up his player Jose Antonio Reyes as they were about to face France. Unfortunately, Aragones referred to Gallic star Thierry Henry as “a black s***.”
5. Real Zaragoza
While playing for the Catalan giants of FC Barcelona, Samuel Eto’o had to undergo racial abuse. This took place in February 2005 when Barcelona faced Real Zaragoza away from the Camp Nou. What unfolded was pretty awful as the Cameroon international had to hear a host of monkey noises every time he touched the ball. Meanwhile, other Zaragoza fan even threw peanuts.
All of this was because he was black but 12 months later he nearly walked off in protest. The exact same chanting occurred but Eto’o was not prepared to take any more abuse. When he almost walked off the pitch, he could be seen saying in Spanish “no mas” or no more over and over again.
4. Paolo Di Canio
A maverick figure at times, Paolo Di Canio has in time pushed over a referee not to mention starting fights with his own players. Yet when playing for Lazio, the ex-West Ham United player was making the wrong sort of headlines. This particular incident happened during his time in Serie A which later earned him a ban for one game. The fascist salute made by Di Canio took place on separate occasions against Livorno and Juventus. The most controversial episode was when he made the same salute at the end of a game when his former club Lazio beat their arch enemies Roma by three goals to one.
3. Malky Mackay
One person who has been courting the headlines recently has been Scotsman Malky Mackay. The former Watford and Cardiff boss has just been appointed manager of struggling Championship side Wigan Athletic. However he is still under investigation by the FA due to a series of texts he was wrangled in between himself and Iain Moody.
As a result of the alleged homophobic not to mention racist texts, this stopped Mackay from taking up the reigns at Crystal Palace. He was reported along with Moody to the Football Association for their alleged racist misdemeanours involving a series of texts. One message expressing Mackay’s thoughts on South Korean Kim Bo-Kyung to his former club Cardiff read: ‘F— chs… F— it. There’s enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go around.’
In another text concerning a football agent, Mackay’s response was ‘Go on, fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.’
2. Ron Atkinson
Commentators should always know when the microphone is on them. Apparently, some are exempt from this rule as in the case of Ron Atkinson. In April 2004, the ex-Aston Villa and Manchester United manager was commentating on a match between Chelsea and Monaco. Unfortunately to his surprise, Atkinson’s comments on French defender Marcel Desailly were picked up.
This was detrimental to Atkinson as he believed that his microphone was switched off and commented on the Frenchman’s defending as “what is known in some schools as a f—ing lazy, thick n—–.”
1. Kevin Prince Boateng
Racism is sometimes over in the blink of an eye. But for some it can turn so ugly that it defies belief.
For AC Milan player Kevin Prince Boateng this is precisely what happened in a pre-season friendly. Milan faced a club named Pro Patria whose fans were extremely bigoted toward the Ghanaian player. It was right in the middle of the field where Boateng took the ball and booted it in the direction of the opposition’s fans. He then walked off the pitch amid the barrage of racist abuse. However scenes of shock soon turned to amazement as the Pro Patria fans applauded him for what he had just done.
The referee postponed the match, while all of the players walked off in unison. This in essence became the ultimate show of arms against racial discrimination.
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