It has been a concern for many years, but it seems that racism from the supporting crowds is currently reaching an all-time high. Recently many games had to be paused, a couple of teams have left the field mid-play and even fines and playing home games without a crowd are all steps taken to avert this kind of behaviour, but will it result in any success?
During a match in September between Serbia and Portugal in the Belgrade’s Stadion Rajko Mitic, Serbia’s supporters made themselves guilty of racist behaviour. In efforts to minimize and eventually eliminate racism within the sport, UEFA acted against the Serbian team with a $37 000 fine in addition to having to display the #EqualGame banner at their stadium and being forced to play their next two home games without a crowd. One of these games being a crucial one against Luxembourg since it is a Group B qualifying match.
Bulgaria Also Under the Spotlight
Serbia is not the only team with a crowd out of control. Merely days before the decision of UEFA, a match between Bulgaria and England had to be paused twice due to Nazi salutes, monkey noises and racists chants from the crowd. Twice the game was broken, and announcements were made to address the group on their behaviour, but with no avail. Not even the manager of Bulgaria addressing the crowds during half-time managed to make a difference.
Haringey and Yeovil
Now we had witnessed once again a repeat of such behaviour when Haringey Borough was up against Yeovil Town. Valery Douglas Pajetat, the goalkeeper to Haringey, was not only spat at, but was also hit by an object flung from the crowd. This led to the team stopping play midway their FA Cup game and walking off the field, following their manager, Tom Loizou in the 64th minute of the match with Haringey having a 1 point lead. This game has been rescheduled to be played next week and whether the supporting crowd will behave this time around still has to be seen.
The Predicament of Black Players
According to Darren Lewis, a journalist, black players have been waiting for more than five decades for authorities to step in and relieve their plight on the field. Yet, they have been left disappointed and now is the time for them to start doing something for themselves. He considers the fact that players walked off the field mid-match as a new level of protest against racism. Lewis also felt that these players couldn’t only be sent off into these kinds of situations. He stated that their emotional well-being and their mental health and the impact of being the subject of racism should be taken into account. Even though authorities have action plans in place for when such events do occur, they aren’t always followed, as with the Bulgaria game. If teams then decide to abandon play, then it should be seen as the only option they had to support their teammates.