Racism in (Continental) European Soccer


First of all, this shows that despite the occasional boasting of some Europeans that racism is primarily an American problem, it looks like they have their own problems after all. (I’m not saying all or even most Europeans allege this, but I have definitely met a few who think the USA is an island of racism compared to “enlightened” western Europe.) Here’s the stat:

That’s a pretty huge percentage. I can’t imagine the percentage here would be even close to that. There can’t be too many places in the USA where black people are afraid to go to NFL or NBA games for fear of racial epithets hurled their way. Not that alot of people aren’t thinking racist thoughts, but few would say any of them in public at a sporting event, especially with a mixed crowd. So it must be the case that racist speech is publicly acceptable in Europe (except Germany I guess, where they have laws against it.) Otherwise, these people would be too ashamed to voice these thoughts, right? And it appears to be a continental problem, because the British clubs’ players are the leaders in this move, after they were shocked by their treatment on the mainland in the Champions League. So I guess we each have our own sort of problems with racism, eh?

Secondly, there’s the question over whether this is a problem that needs to be dealt with by an organization like the UEFA, giving instructions down to club-level. Is it really the business of soccer clubs to regulate what their fans are saying in the stands? Can they really hope to affect speech at these games? Sure, they could kick people off the grounds for saying those things, it’s their right to determine who can enter for a game. Still, it seems like this would be putting racist speech on the same level as vulgar words and threats of violence. Some racist speech might be the type that advocates violence or is vulgar (the N word, for instance), but the other type? It might be rude and improper, but how do you determine when it crosses the line that should justify removal from the stadium? And how can a limited number of stadium officials hope to effectively police this if the problem is so widespread?

[sub]Admittedly, that’s MLB & not NBA or NFL[/sub]

Fenway? Having been to more than my share of games there, and having seen PLENTY of minorities, black, Japanese, Korean, Dominican, and otherwise, I’ll have to hear a cite on this one.

disclaimer: I do not consider myself to be racist. In fact, I am the product of a mixed race marriage. So if the question comes out wrong, I apologise.
Is the reason this phenomenon is rare in the U.S., related to the fact that our Pro sports teams are more ethnically diverse?
I watch a little Football. I watch waay too much Rugby. I worked for the World Cup when it was in Chicago. I have noticed that a lot of the European teams seem to be pretty “white.”
I think it would be really hard to hassle a group of Hispanics while you’re on your way to Wrigley to cheer on Sosa.
Or threaten to beat the crap out of a couple of Afro-American guys while wearing a jersey with Shaq’s name and team # on the back.


The British league has lots of black players.

This is just the product of the usual “My country is better than yours” argument (Hopefully this thread will not go down the same path). Any body who held Europe up as a non-racist paradise is talking shit. There are a lot of problems with Racism in Europe and a very big problem in football. This was really bad in the 70’s in the UK and has lessened with time but it’s still there.

Far right groups have latched onto football as a vehicle to get their fucked agenda across. They’ve even come over to Ireland to show paddy a thing or two.

Ireland has relatively recently shown it’s ugly side. We are getting refugees from Eastern Europe and areas of Africa like Nigeria and there has been a up swell of Racism in this country. The usual arguments are made: They’re getting lots of free stuff; tax breaks a blowjob on arrival from a virginal Irish maiden etc. A taxi driver this wkend started telling me about how “I’m no racist :rolleyes: but did you hear about all those Africa’s giving Irish girls AIDS?”

There is still racism inside football stadiums in the UK, but strong steps have been taken to reduce all types of antisocial behaviour at games. It is against the law to shout racist abuse at football games here, so it becomes a police concern if people do it, not just a matter for stadium officials. Stadiums contain CCTV cameras, which are controlled by the police to monitor the crowd and offenders can be (and are) arrested, not just asked to leave. Offenders can have season tickets confiscated and in extreme cases, they can be banned for life from attending any stadium in Britain.

Legislation is less-well developed in most European countries, but that seems to be changing.

These links give further advice about campaigns to eliminate racism from football in the UK:
Football Unites, Racism Divides
Kick It Out

I can think of approx 8,000 Rangers fans who were shouting, in unison “Coon, Coon, Coon” at Momo Scylla and Dianbobo Balde during the Celtic Rangers match yesterday.

No more than you’d expect, the bastards.

BTW, talking of the Old Firm, I bet someone not a million miles away would like me to remind you there’s no British league (yet) ;).

Er, not remind you Twisty - remind yojimbo I meant.

Personal experience.
I grew up in the greater seattle area - and when I was a teenager, I went to ballgames, when I wanted to. Sure the area around where the Kingdome was was not the safest neighborhood on the planet, but it wasn’t all that bad, especially right before or after a game. And inside the dome, I never felt that I had anything to worry about at all.

In the early 90s, I went to college - near Boston. I thought I’d be able to go see games at Fenway whenever I could afford it (in fact, it was one of the things that went into picking the college, a minor point - but still there). Once I was there, every time I mentioned the “going to a ball game” plan to another black student or non-student (and many times from white people as well), I was told point blank that I was not safe in and around Fenway park. That if I wanted to see the Red Sox, I should wait until summer vacation & see them at home, but that it wasn’t just that I could be subjected to having someone hurl racial epithets at me - but that I was in danger of actual physical violence from the fans. Scared me (and a few friends) out of going. Also, every so often, the Globe would write an article about a concession worker being racially harrassed by the fans, or an article about how the breakdown of attendance at games does not seem to match the racial breakdown of Boston, and that helped cement for me the impression that I was not welcome at Fenway.

I’m back in Seattle now, and when I mention going to a ball game, people “warn” me about parking prices.

Perhaps all of these people and I were unreasonably scared, but we were scared. Perhaps it has gotten better in the past few years, I can only hope it has.

So you never actually went to a game at Fenway, then, amarinth? I assure you, I’ve never seen or heard any racial incidents at games, and that includes the times that I’ve attended with black/asian/whatever people in my group. Maybe I’m just lucky, but as I said, I’ve been to over 100 games, and I’ve never seen it, nor have I heard people worry about it.

Sure, back in the 50s and 60s, the Sox weren’t famous for being a racially progressive team, but that was the 60s. Today, it’s not usual to see large groups of Dominicans in the crowd, waving flags, alongside about 40 guys named Sully or Red, who are doing the same thing. The Globe prints stories about the game in spanish whenever Pedro pitches. Luis Tiant announces the game on the spanish radio station. Racial harmony may not be ideal, but I certainly don’t think it’s any worse than anywhere else in the country.

Yes, but you see it doesn’t matter, since Celtic fans sing sectarian songs such as the Irish national anthem, and commemorations of the Easter Rising (you know, that rebellion fought by such notable anti-Protestant bigots as Roger Casement and Constance Markievicz) at our matches, so obviously we’re just as bad as they are :rolleyes:

Of course, from my point of view singing Irish songs isn’t equivalent to racial abuse, but didn’t Danny Wallace take some stick a while back? I have also heard black English players expressing some surprise at the poor reception they’ve had at Scottish clubs over the last couple of years (not necessarily the OF teams).

To address Granuaile’s point a few posts back: unfortunately whenever supporters want to criticise an “enemy” player, and that player happens to be black, race is often used as the vehicle to express that criticism. The people responsible seem to be oblivious to the effect that has on black players in their own team.

I believe the problem is universal, but varies in scale from place to place. Certain English clubs have a worse reputation than others, but it’s encouraging to see that some of the ones with the worst reputations have been in the vanguard to deal with the problem through anti-racist fans’ organisations.

The best way to deal with it is for fans themselves to tell each other what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

On the continent, some countries’ clubs have worse reputations than others - Italy seems to have a particular problem, where racism is well-connected to far right politics. But again there are some steps being taken by anti-racist campaigns to deal with the problem there. Sadly it’s a slow process.

I should correct myself, it was Rod Wallace, not Danny. But this entry from Celtic View is worth reading all the same.

What Mark Walters had to go through is shameful and a blight on our name, and just about any Celtic fan you will meet will acknowledge this. It was also a good while ago and I can honestly say I’ve seen nothing of the sort in any of my dozens of trips to Celtic Park in recent years. Except when Rangers are visiting - and on those occasions it’s coming strictly from their end.

(I don’t personally remember any incidents involving Rod Wallace, btw.)