Romelu Lukaku recently said that “we are going backwards” on racism after he was racially abused by Cagliari fans while playing for Inter Milan.
It follows incidents where Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, and Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham were abused on social media which prompted the Belgian striker to say “As players we need to unify and make a statement on this matter,”.
There is no doubt that we are seeing worst scenes at football stadiums but to state that the issue is a footballing one is naïve and wrong.People are going backwards on racism. Racism is becoming more acceptable in the pub, in the workplace and in society in general and it is certainly not an issue which is unique to football.
We can learn some simple things from racism in football and see how it links with society though. Racism happens at football matches almost always when the match hasn’t gone the way that the racist supporters wanted. I can’t recall a scenario where a black player has scored a late winner for the home side who have then racially abused him.
What we usually see is a child-like spoilt behaviour where ‘supporters’ (and I use that word very loosely) respond to not getting their own way by attacking a targeted scapegoat on their own team or a talented player of the opposition.
And this is far more blatant and obvious within football than outside of it but the same principle remains.
It is rare that we see a genuinely happy, successful, good looking person whose life is going just as they planned suddenly launch a racist attack on someone or show racist behaviour to others. Generally, it is the idiotic, pig-ugly, miserable piss head with 6 remaining teeth who openly share their racist views.
But it is becoming more of an issue. No doubt. And part of that is commonplace when we look back at history; when economies struggle, politicians (just like some football ‘supporters’) chose a scapegoat and the masses follow.
We’ve seen this behaviour in Europe towards the Jewish during food shortages in the middle ages, obviously in German after the Wall Street crash and towards any possible ‘scapegoat’ when Joe Bloggs wants someone to blame for why things aren’t quite as they hoped. Football isn’t racist.
The issue isn’t one which is confined to 22 people chasing a ball around a field, the issue is that idiots always want someone or something else to blame for not getting their own way.
The fact that these idiots within a football stadium now feel that it is socially acceptable to openly share that view, as some do in the pub or on the internet is the real issue and how to deal with that is seemingly impossible. Footballers should unify and make a real statement on this issue but lets not play it down by making it out to be a footballing issue.