by Olly Allen
It feels almost unbelievable to say, but racism is still rife in 2019. Football, in particular, has been in the spotlight in recent weeks following the abuse suffered by England’s players during their 6-0 win over Bulgaria, when the game was temporarily halted as part of UEFA’s three-step protocol.
The following weekend, an FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned when Haringey manager took his team off the pitch after racial abuse directed towards a number of his players. There were also reports of racial abuse at fixtures in the Premier League, Championship, Scottish Premiership and Serie A in the same weekend. This, unfortunately, is a problem that is not going away.
According to Home Office statistics, in the 2018/19 season, there were 152 reported incidences of racial hate crime, a 61.7% increase from the previous season. There is, however, an exemplary record in South Wales.
For the 12th season in a row, there were no arrests for racist and indecent chanting at Cardiff City games, while Newport County have a clean record since their promotion to the Football League in 2013. There have also been clear improvement at Swansea City, with zero arrests for racist and indecent chanting in 2018/19 after a total of five being made in the previous two years combined.
October has been the ‘Month of Action’ in Wales for the UK’s largest anti-racism educational charity, Show Racism the Red Card. Clubs across the nation have shown their support for the initiative and increased awareness of an issue that sadly remains prevalent in society.
This included the ‘Action Match’ weekend of the 18-20 October, beginning with Cardiff City against Sheffield Wednesday live on Sky Sports on Friday night, and covering all six Cymru Premier fixtures as well as grassroots teams up and down the country. According to the Show Racism the Red Card website, action weeks aim to:
“Unite supporters, clubs, ethnic minorities and communities affected by discrimination, increase public awareness and tackle discrimination in football.
“The Action Weeks challenge discrimination, promote integration values amongst youth and celebrate the input of all individuals that strive to make football a game for all, regardless of who we are, where we are from, and what our beliefs are.
“In addition to increasing the awareness of the campaigns work and messages, the ‘Day of Action’ will also help clubs underline and draw attention to the work that they are already doing to challenge racism and promote equality.”
Show Racism the Red Card was established in 1996, aiming to utilise the high-profile status of football and football players to help tackle racism in society, expanding to other sports in recent years.
They deliver anti-racism workshops in schools to approximately 18,000 pupils in Wales each year, encouraging young people to critically think about and challenge what they hear and see from outside sources such as the media. These are held in cooperation with local sports clubs such as Cardiff City, Swansea City and Cardiff Blues.