Athletes Athletics Football Governance Latest Feature Specific topics

Racism in Sport – The Way Forward

mm

Racism in English parlance can be defined to be “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Historically, those who openly professed or practiced racism held  that members of low status jobs and that members of the dominant race should have exclusive access to political power, economic resources, high status jobs and unrestricted civil rights[1]Acts of racism includes physical violence, daily insults and frequent acts and verbal expressions of contempt and disrespect.

This problem of racism can be referred to as “the transformation of race prejudice through the exercise of power against a racial group defined as inferior, by individuals and institutions with the intentional or unintentional support of the entire culture.” Racism teaches nothing of value and can only breed a hatred or desire to succeed by overcoming the portrayer of the racist action in those it affects. Either way, those who pervade these racist attitudes will be faced with some sort of negative effect.[2] Racism has been an issue which has been in the sports industry right from collegiate sports which can be seen as the origin of racism in sports.

One of the trending news which hit the sports world in the past weeks is that of the Bulgarian Football President Mr Brorislav Mihayylov who resigned as president of the Bulgarian football union because of the racism witnessed at the Euro 2020 qualifier against England. It was reported that the government of Bulgaria had pressured him to resign as the act of racisim was not accepted. Infact the Sports Minister did say that the government would suspend its relationship with the Bulgarian Football Union until the Mr Brorislav Mihayylov leaves. This act by Bulgarian government can be said to be too extreme but really very commendable and encouraging as it shows their stance against the menace of racism in football.

People argue that sport is a model of racial equality, which facilitates the integration of blacks intonsociety, provides an avenue for upward mobility for blacks, and lacks the segregation and discriminatory problems of society as a whole.[3] Sports organisations such as Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), The English Football Association, Kick it out.org and the Bulgarian Football Union have also taken a stand against racism which is very commendable. Mr. Gianni Infantino stated during his speech at the last concluded “The Best” ceremony stated that everyone should fight against the act of racism. We can also observe from the English Premier League games the the phrase “no room for racism” The fight has been encouraging however more efforts needs to be put in place to fight the disgusting acts. We have also seen football clubs boldly come out against racism for example Chelsea football club after the racist abuse hurled at Raheem Sterling during a Premier League match had publicly rebuked the fans involved and held on its position against racism. We have also seen top sports athletes boldly step up to fight the problem of racism. One name that comes to mind in this regard is Colin Rand Kaepernick who won the heart of many for knelling during the national anthem of the USA as a protest against racism in the United States. We have also had players such as Dani Alves, Patrice Evra who are victims of racism. In as much as the fight is on and the awareness is on, there is hope that this menace will be dealt with and every athelete won’t be judged by his or her colour of skin.

While we commend the various bodies and personnel who are fighting this menace, some suggest that the issue of racism is more of an ethical issue which should be dealt with from an ethical point of view as various ethical theories are been analysed. Well, we would see how that helps in the sports industry. The writer is of the opinion that the world is a global village and accepting each other is the best mode of survival especially when it relates to sports which is referred to as the only bond of unity in the world.


[1] www.britannica.com/topic/racism last accessed on the 28thOct., 2019 

[2] Paul M. Anderson; Racism in Sports: A question of ethics, Marquette Sports Law Review, Vol. 6 Issue 2 Spring Article 9

[3] Ibid.

About the author

mm

Ayomide Adesemowo

Ayomide Oluwatobiloba Adesemowo is a sports lawyer with keen interest in sports governance and administration. He is the business and management strategist at Lagos Tigers Football Academy in Lagos Nigeria. During his leisure, Tobi loves to research on sports related issues.

Leave a Comment