Is Racism in Soccer Only on a Yellow Card?

Following Chelsea’s crucial 2-0 win over Manchester City, there has been speculation of vulgar, racist abuse towards City winger and English international Raheem Sterling. In today’s game, we see associations such as Show Racism the Red Card which serve to eradicate racism from the beautiful game. It may be a shock to many that racism is being reported more and more in recent years. In fact, Kick It Out, soccer’s anti-discrimination campaign, received more reports of racism, sexism and other forms of abuse in 2016-17 than any previous season, with a total of 469 incidents.

We should rewind to the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra situation which headlined across the world and portrayed the two in disgrace. In our opinion, here at The Spax, racism has no place. Sterling would agree, but points blame at The Sun. Many of their articles appear to put dirt on his name, a popular example being “Raheem shoots himself in the foot,” after Sterling’s gun tattoo on his right leg which symbolized the weapon used to kill his father when Sterling was just two years old. It is a shame to see the England International being called a “footie idiot” and “obscene Raheem” by his own country’s media simply for the color of his skin. John Barnes, another famous footballer, refers to this abuse as “banana skins thrown at black people every day.” “It’s been well documented over the years,” adds Barnes. “For any black player in the 1980s, it would have been the same old racist chants, bananas on the field – just something that was an accepted part of society and football. Maybe the overt racism that I experienced, you may not have seen in the last 20 years. Now, with the Raheem Sterling incident, maybe it has reared its ugly head again. I, for one, never thought that it had gone away – you just never heard it because people kept their mouths shut … It didn’t surprise me because black people go through invisible banana skins being thrown at them and unspoken racial abuse every day of their lives. The very fact that now a real banana skin came on and there was real abuse doesn’t surprise me at all. I just thought it was to be expected.” The ‘real’ banana skin Barnes refers to is the one in the prominent photograph where we see him in his legendary all-red Liverpool jersey kicking a banana skin off the field.

In 2018, is it fair to see someone being abused in their workplace? Especially after we have come so far throughout the years crushing racism and showing that it has no place in our game. After all, we can all agree that soccer is one of the most thrilling and upsetting sports in the world (depending on the team you support). Regardless of skin, religion, or sexuality, we must all rejoice and serve as a better example for future generations so that they too can enjoy the beautiful game.