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“Racism is beyond common sense and has no place in our society.” – Steven Patrick Morrissey

“Racism is ridiculous no matter where it’s coming from.” – Alan Ball

In a global age, in a time of the world where civilization and industrialization has peaked. In a time where the world is virtually automized, discrimination in football continues to persist with racism being the common of it. It is on the rise and has become a quotidian practice. It is on the rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

The scourge of racism continues to tarnish the image and the beauty of modern football. There has been a string of racist incidents in the last few months. In a match between Manchester City and Manchester United on Saturday, a man was arrested for making monkey gestures and shouting “Black B*****d” which was directed at Manchester United’s Fred. Earlier this season, Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford were subjected to vile abuse on Twitter after missing penalties for their teams. A month ago, England players had monkey noises and Nazi salutes directed at them during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria, a despicable act that saw the Bulgaria national team fined $94,000 (€85,000) and punished to play a game in an empty stadium. Recently in Ukraine, Brazilian player for Shakhtar Donetsk Taison was sent off for responding to racist abuse with an obscene gesture in a game against arch rivals Dynamo Kiev. The midfielder showed his middle finger to the Dynamo away fan section and as well kicked the ball into the stands. He was banned for a game for his actions.

The situation is much more acute in Italy. Moise Kean, Kalidou Koulibaly, Frank Kessie, Romelu Lukaku, Mario Ballotelli etc. have all been recent sufferers of racism. Just few days ago, in a promo for a game between Inter Milan and Roma. Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport had photos of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling with the headline “Black Friday”. Seria A super stars and Seria A clubs have come out to condemn the headline, Lukaku described it as “one of the dumbest headlines” he had ever seen. Milan and Roma decided to ban the newspaper from their training facilities for the rest of the year, they’ve also fordid their players from carrying out any media activity with the newspaper during this period.

All these recent incidents serve as ugly reminders that racism remains entrenched in the sport. However, it still remains a question as to whether FIFA, UEFA and other footballing bodies are doing enough to eliminate the deplorable act from the beautiful game of football. Some of these punishments given to clubs have been vehemently criticized especially by anti-discrimination groups and deemed too lenient. Anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out said they were “disheartened but not surprised” by Uefa’s sanction on Bulgaria a month ago. “In our view, they have missed an opportunity to send an uncompromising message on racism and discrimination,” the London-based body said.

Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin recently admitted that more needs to be done to combat racism in football. He said the “football family” and governments must “wage war on the racists”, he also called for support from governments.

“I think we could do more. We have to try to do more,” he said.

“And we will. But it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s a wide problem. It’s a problem that we need support from the governments.

“I can say that we need support of governments and we don’t have much support of the governments.”

Uefa’s three-step protocol for dealing with racism has been criticized by players including Watford captain Troy Deeney. Ceferin says the governing body knows its sanctions are “not enough”.

The three-step protocol grants referees the power to initially halt play and call on supporters to stop the discriminatory behavior. If this announcement does not materialize, make another announcement, suspend the match and send the players to the dressing rooms for a specific period of time and if the behavior does not cease or break, abandon the match…

©Mahama Shaibu

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