November 28th, 2012
12:03 PM ET

Time for football to get tough on racist abuse?

England under-21 midfielder Danny Rose claimed he was racially abused by Serbian fans in October. (Getty Images)
England under-21 midfielder Danny Rose claimed he was racially abused by Serbian fans in October. (Getty Images)

When UEFA president Michel Platini declared any footballer who left the pitch as a result of racial abuse would be yellow carded, he set a dangerous precedent.

Platini, head of European football’s governing body and speaking ahead of June’s Euro 2012 tournament, was placing the emphasis on soccer’s referees to tackle an issue which has plagued the sport over the last 12 months.

The Frenchman declared match officials had the authority to halt a match and they would decide when discriminatory chants or behavior had reached unacceptable levels.

However, despite racist abuse being reported at matches during the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, no match was abandoned.

Likewise monkey chanting, Hitler salutes and anti-Semitic abuse have been reported at a number of matches in the intervening five months, but no referee has brought a match to a premature close.

Sunday’s English Premier League match between Tottenham and West Ham United was the latest in a litany of racial abuse scandals which have plagued soccer over the last 12 months.

“We'd like to see a proactive stance on this,” chairman of the Association of Black Lawyers Peter Herbert told CNN. “A vigorous approach, prosecute where possible, ban people from grounds and if incidents like that do happen, call a halt to the game.

“There is a UEFA rule which is never used where a referee can call off the game. That's the sort of initiative which has to happen.

“Do you want to watch a football game or do you want to listen to this abuse?”

So why has no referee ordered players off the pitch? And why are football’s lawmakers not taking a tougher stance against racism?

Italian team Lazio were last month fined $52,000 after their fans chanted racial abuse at Tottenham players, while the Croatian FA was hit with a $103,000 sanction after their supporters abused Italian striker Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012.

But both those punishments were less than the £126,000 fine handed to Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner for displaying a bookmaker's name on his underwear in a guerrilla marketing stunt.

Increasing fines might encourage national associations to take a greater interest in the conduct of their own fans, but would it tackle the root of the problem?

Surely the long-term solution lies in educating fans, though changing outdated attitudes takes time, so a more immediate deterrent is also required.

Life-time bans like the one swiftly issued by West Ham to a season-ticket holder involved in Sunday’s events are a start.

If discriminatory offences persist, the docking of points and the banning of teams is the only way to make an impact.

Perhaps this is unfair, punishing a football club and the majority of its fans for the acts of a mindless minority.

But the minority, despite being rightly distanced from those whose behavior at football matches is exemplary, are still football fans.

They are emotionally invested in the fortunes of their football club.

In this instance, a points deduction for West Ham might be the only way to make these fans realize the gravity of their offensive chants.

Only when these fans realise their actions are hurting their own club will discriminatory abuse cease.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Julian, London

    Why should football authorities need to solve a problem that is basically a law enforcement issue? By now all European countries have laws against racism and other forms of hate speech. There are cameras on the pitches. Identify anyone who is involved in this abuse and send them to prison. It has been proven that football clubs and associations have no interest in solving this problem. But maybe the police will.

    November 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  2. Tzina

    You may wish to add that FIFA reported today that they will rebuild the recently destroyed football stadium in Gaza where terrorists used it as a rocket launching site to direct missiles at Israeli citizens.

    November 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  3. Mikey

    Tzina, you may wish to add that soccer may be the only hope for those people after Israel killed all those children and families, oh wait I mean "terrorists". But wait, they also killed babies. Who's going to play soccer in the future?!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:35 am | Reply
  4. Rebecca

    Truth be told – football, under the anti Semite 'leadership' of Sepp Blatter, has become a racket, a tool of political blackmail – which encourages and brings out the worst in fans. The fact that FiFa REWARDS terrorists in Gaza, who's missiles were placed in the football stadium – and fired to cause death and destruction to civilians – conceals FiFa's deeper interests: The terror supporting State of Qatar – who just days before this incident – donated 400 Million to the leaders of Hamas – who boast a genocidal Charter aimed at killing Jews worldwide. Qatar is a big client and sponsor of FiFa – who recently blackmailed the Spanish National team to remove the cross from their t-shirts when playing in Islamic countries – or lose Qatar's sponsorship. Sepp Blatter is fully aware of this gross politically racist motivation – he has traded the virtue and dignity of sportsmanship for cold, hard cash. Maradonna, the cocaine abuser – has become an Islamic poster boy for anti Semitic slogans – the temptation of greed has broken the spine of fairplay and sports.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  5. hAREEGA

    Israel by itself is a racist country and chanting against its discriminatroy policy against Arabs and Palestinians is chanting against racism. It has nothing to do with anti-black slurs which are offensive

    November 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  6. Chwennis

    Its like this.......it,s an affair of the heart.......some people r heartless.....while some others have a good heart......these racist ,religious abusers are pathetic........u c the hatred in their eyes and thats when i leave the stadium............they need a wack in the head, so they WAKE UP...........................................................................what da ya reckon....

    December 2, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
  7. Ali

    Rebecca..you are just an example of the remaining minority who still believe that shouting..."everyone hates us..they want us dead..thoes terrorist kids are throwing stones at our accupying army who only wishes to protect the peacful settlers in the west bank and gaza"..is still heard and believed by anyone..wake up..the role of a victim fools no one anymore..

    December 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  8. T

    Most of you dont like jewish folks and use this Isreal stuff as a smokescreen. Just be honest, you would never condone rockets being fired into your own countries you would scream bloody murder and demand the enemy be killed. None of you have anything to say about the syrians slaughtering each other or the daily massacres in lebanon, iraq, and iran. If you were alive during ww2 you would cheer on the crimes against the jews. 10 holocausts would be 10 too few for you. hamas purposely endangers their own civilian population by placing their rockets and launchers in civilian areas, What should the Isrealis do – nothing? Thankfully the jews can fight back unlike ww2 – I wish them the best of luck. Their iron dome system shooting down the iranian missiles was a great achievement.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  9. Jerry101

    It's my view that not all countries have the same cultures or morals. For example, muslim countries do not serve pork or sell alchohol. They will also not allow Christain worship of any kind. Does that make them bad countries? Do we fine those countries and sanction them? No, similarly with eastern European countries. They have been bought up in a culture of mainly white customs and have strived to maintain their countries for their own. Whilst I don't agree with their principles, one has to respect their preferences. The English teams have themselves to blame by consistly baiting the fans of these countries by including blacks in their teams to play at these places. They should, in my opinion only bring players that will not cause conflict, on and off the pitch. You cannot force another culture to accept your preferences.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
  10. Chat Pati

    Racist chants yes stop the game, anti-semitism chants no. Semitism is is as bad as racism. Semitism means the right to kill Palestinians and grab their land simply because their fairy tales say their ancestor did the same to Cananites.

    December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  11. LR

    Is there a question here? Why would the referred NOT end the game if racist activity occurs?

    December 4, 2012 at 1:57 am | Reply
  12. Chris

    Reading the comments posted tells me that the human species still has a long way to go before it can honestly call itself civilized and still has better than 2:1 odds of destroying itself.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:07 am | Reply
  13. Jim

    It warms my heart to see that the Europeans are so much more enlightened and liberally progressive compared to us racist and warmongering Americans.

    December 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  14. Mazen

    In last war against Gaza after Israel assassinate Hamas leader, Israel kill two children while they play football/soccer, Israel also had strike/destroy the biggest stadium in Gaza strip without any reason to do that.

    5 millions Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) live behind Israeli borders (occupation) ! Only 1.8 millions have the right to vote(Israel recognize them as Israeli), others don't have any right even the right to move (Apartheid) or build houses or even sown trees. Israel doesn't want Peace, Israel keep killing Palestinians, Israel doesn't want to stop stealing the Palestinians land or even declare stop build Jews settlements on Palestinians land.

    December 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  15. Carl

    Hey Ali, your gross misrepresentations don't fool anyone. Those were not kids throwing stones at soldiers. They were an organized military force under Hamas command firing military grade rockets to kill Israeli civilians – rockets manufactured by Iran, China and Russia, not "homemade firecrackers" as many of your ilk try to convince the naive and ill-informed. But this thread is about racism in soccer. There is no place for anti-black, anti-Jewish, or anti-anything else in sport and I agree that there is a point where action must be taken.

    December 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  16. Gary

    Hareega, you and Ali are the best examples of the problem of "racism" and anti-semitism. You could care less about the problem, you only use this to further your Anti-Jewish and Anti-Israel drivel. The fact is the Israelis went WAY out of their way to avoid civilian casualties. NO ONE IS PLAYING THE VICTIM HERE. They are all victims, but the Israelis didnt start this crap. Hamas did. I sure dont here you crying about all of those tens of thousands of poor children who are being slaughtered by Assad in Syria. Certainly no collateral damage there! The Israelis have done nothing but defend themselves and have done so using REMARKABLE restraint. Ive spent a lot of time in Egypt and Jordan, and I can tell you the intolerance and bigoted ignorance is far greater there than in Israel. For all of you Europeans, you need to get your head out of the ground when it comes to Israel. Try walking down the street in Cairo – outside of Maadi or Heliopolis – and see how the people treat you. Do the same thing in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or Haifa and I think you will be shocked at the difference!

    December 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  17. B1975

    Jerry101, you know this is not 1900 anymore right? Why would any team of any sport leave behind it's minority players for the sake of appeasing racist anywhere on this planet? Until they get the fact that it's 2012, Serbia and countries like it can watch the matches on tv if they can't except the fact that minorities are here to stay and realize the world and the very sport they so love is changing with or without them and the world is bigger then there landlocked country.

    December 4, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  18. st6778

    oh please – these players make millions for playing a childrens' game. "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen," as harry truman said. i don't think the refs or the league should do anything.

    December 7, 2012 at 10:18 am | Reply
  19. Changiman

    The most racist state in the world is ISRAEL. Racism is a way of life in Israel, passed on from father down to son. It is in the Israeli nature to continually discriminate the Arabs and other races.

    December 8, 2012 at 12:25 am | Reply
  20. GaryMak

    Wow! I read this article and thought it was about soccer and their problems with toleration of verbal abuse of players! Silly me! It's really about Middle-East politics! How did I not see it?!

    December 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  21. bug

    In an unrelated incident, police arrested a man on suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence during the game. The man was held after officers reported hearing racist chanting from the crowd.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:58 am | Reply
  22. Eddy

    Jews never give up, never surrender. We came to holy land in order to stay and no stupid terrorists or their supporters will force us to do different. We will defend ourselves with all means.

    December 10, 2012 at 5:12 am | Reply
  23. Mordechai Tennenhaus

    Make yourself a great service. Educate yourself. Read please the latest editorial by Thomas Friedman (The New York Times) named "The Full Israeli Experience" and the comments. It was enlightening for me and I hope it will do it for you too.

    December 12, 2012 at 12:50 am | Reply
  24. Mengistu

    There are forces in this world who use different methods to distract attention of others so that others will not pay much attention to what they are doing. One method is inciting people against each other. Platini recieves orders from such forces not to take a radical measure which could annihilate those who provoke others on racial or religious grounds. We have to pay attention to those who organize such ugly theatre from behind and not to those intellectiually weak fans who get manipulated by evil forces.

    December 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  25. Sean Nguyen

    I am not an Arab, a Muslim, or even a Christian. I am a second generation American with Buddhist religious roots on my father's side and a member of the Seminole nation on my mother's side.

    I do not condone the violence that many non-state groups have heaved towards Israel.

    That said, I don't understand how anybody with a thinking mind can see Israel as anything but a racist, extremist, uber-nationalist theocratic state.

    I have a challenge for any American zionists: Leave this country, go to your "rightful homeland" if you believe that this is the truly the case. If the American Jewry believes so strongly in the social/racial/religious hypotheses that Israel predicates the justification for it's existence on; then give American Indians the same considerations and GTFO. We were here first, you attacked us and continue to attack us, GTFO.

    But see, I can recognize that it's 2012 and that shouldn't be the point. Claims to "rightful homelands" in a fully globalized economy and society are essentially moot in the first world. Why is it that international Zionists think they have an immutable right to that chunk of desert when they seem to have no issue with occupying and living in the "rightful homelands" of thousands of other peoples? Why is it that when other peoples with claims to "rightful homelands" wanted to expel all of their Jewish citizenry, it was anti-semetic (whatever that means), but it's totally acceptable for Zionists in 'Israel' to oust religious and ethnic minorities from their "homeland"?

    Cut the propaganda, stop with the false victimhood, it's annoying. It's getting pretty bad when Americans with no inherent interest in Israel are getting fed up with your incessant self-victimization. They force-feed this whole boo-hoo for the Jews thing starting in elementary schools here in the US for months at a time, but the victims of Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and literally a thousand other despots gets no more than a short paragraph in our history books.

    We are starting to see through the farce.

    December 16, 2012 at 6:15 am | Reply
  26. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Real life promoting education is the need of the hour. Mere literacy equips people to read, write and earn livelihood but education is that and much more. During our brief tenure on the Planet we need to respect fellow humans made in the image and likeness of our Creator.

    December 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  27. Rob

    Remember Europe still has nazi Germany and antisemitism in them, but they know its not politically correct so they know not to tell everyone there thoughts. But for some reason they think its ok to express it on a football field and at a lazio Roma game. I do have Italian blood and I went through this faze but I have meet some Jews and I think they are great respectable people, and I think you must back them, because if you were getting persecuted you would want them to support you. They are not sub human if anything they are smarter, never underestimate others because you will probably get tricked if you think you are smarter then them then you will probably loose.

    December 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  28. yoni

    Racial abuse in any aspect, any counrty, and in any club should not be tolerated.This disgusts me as well as a mojority of the population. This needs to stop and Refs are not going to stop games for this racial abuse, authority figures need to resond to this; taking measures like they did at White Heart Lane.

    January 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  29. Planet Hates Pigment

    Highly pigmented people are discriminated against everywhere on the planet. There are no safe havens. It is simply a matter of degree...meaning some places are worst than others. The darker you are the more hated you are and that is the sad fact of the backward world we no live in. Blacks are hated the most, brown people (arabs, indians, etc) are hated less, and those with the least pigment are most accepted. The hate for pigment is so pervasive that among blacks and browns, the darkest are the most discriminated against and the lighter ones are prized. This is the global legacy of european invasions across our planet. Many like to criticize the U.S. but the U.S. is one of the planets most advance white dominated jurisdictions in terms of race relations.

    We can improve, we can be less tribal and it is people of goodwill that has moved us from where we use to be to where we are today. We have long to go, but we are heading towards a day where we can live as ONE SPECIES.

    January 5, 2013 at 12:47 am | Reply
  30. jonathan

    Why the hell people always start talking about their personal problems here ? this article is about "Racism" not "Terrorism".
    I am neither a Jew nor a Muslim but I think they should stop fighting because there is no point to have a war . Also , to my dear Anti-Jew friends here I would like to say that If you call Israel a terrorist then Who's Hamas,PLO & other 72 Islamic Terrorist Organisations to you ? A charity Organisation ? or you just wanna overview the fact that Palestine TV shows 24/7 Anti-Israeli programms and brainwashed Childrens who wants to be a suicide bomber .
    If, they kill any innocent human being is bad and they must stop that but, for that you should realise your mistakes too . It's not good to blame Israel,USA,UK,Jews,Christians or others for the trouble going on in your countries .

    January 5, 2013 at 8:20 am | Reply
  31. Rayan

    Stop having Arab-Israeli talk here amigos because, there are so many points which anyone can bring as well like I am a Persian-Afghan zorastrian who lives in the UK because of being non muslim my family have been suffered a lot in Iran and my half family has been forced by talibanis to accept Islam which they denied and had to pay their death .
    so, if we all just forget the past that will be better for everyone unless you wanna bring conflicts all around the world.

    January 5, 2013 at 8:51 am | Reply
  32. Rob

    It's like soccer a so crap they want to spice things up by causing trouble, I don't think you can discipline fans though

    January 5, 2013 at 11:32 am | Reply
  33. Olagoke

    I found 2 kids fighting over something of interest and one had the upper hand. I pacified them and and centered on the most aggrieved, I asked him should I cut off the head of the other? he stopped crying immediately. His eyes popped and he screamed NO! NO!! NO!!! I then asked him but why? he has just hurt you. He replied with a snap, "who then will I play with when you cut off his head?" The lesson here is obvious. If we continue on the hate line historically, politically,...we shall never be happy inhabitants of the planet earth.

    January 6, 2013 at 8:58 am | Reply

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