English football’s Premier League, which has many of the best players in the world, holds the enviable title of the most popular international league, and rightly so. However, there is a problem with top-level football in the UK that rears its ugly head far too often. The scourge threatening the game is racism.
Racism has existed from time immemorial in all walks of life. However, it has become more prevalent in the Premier League in recent years, mainly due to fans using social media to express racist views about individual players. Such unacceptable practices were highlighted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that rocked the world.
How is the Premier League dealing with racism?
Through the No Room For Racism campaign, the Premier League and all 20 clubs work with their stakeholders to promote equality and inclusion. The task involves the fans, the FA, EFL, PFA, Kick It Out, and the police, all tackling racism on and off the pitch. With players of many nationalities from different cultural backgrounds in the teams, all those involved wish to promote diversity and inclusiveness. All 20 clubs have decided that their players will ‘take the knee’ before matches to show solidarity with ending racism in the game.
Those who masquerade as football fans while chanting racist comments at football matches need to be identified and dealt with robustly. The expulsion and exclusion from grounds of such individuals is now a strong focus of the authorities.
Action plan by the Premier League in the No Room For Racism campaign
Racism manifests itself in many ways, from the racist chants coming from some fans in the stands to the more subtle acts of discrimination in the workplace. The acceptance that there is a poor representation of minority groups within the Premier League hierarchy has prompted the campaign.
The action plan has six fundamental principles that form the framework. These are Executive Pathways, Coaching Pathways, Player Pathways, Supporting Communities, Action Against Racism, and Embedding Equality. The aim is to see an increased number of people from minority groups being employed in the various structures of the Premier League. There have long been calls for more black football coaches to be employed in the league, as there have been just nine coaches in the history of the Premier League.
Authorities can’t stop racism on their own
The total elimination of racist behaviour at football matches is impossible for the authorities because of the limited number of security personnel among the tens of thousands of fans. The individual fan plays the most crucial role in reporting any untoward racist behaviour they witness. Any racist actions must be reported immediately to the nearest steward or police officer. If it is not possible for whatever reason to notify the authorities at the ground, all 20 clubs have dedicated helplines and helpdesks available so that people can report racist incidents. In this age of technology, some fans spend hours on social media, which is where many racist comments are published. Once again, an individual seeing this should report it to the site administrator and request that the offensive post or comment be removed.
Education about racism
Most racist fans of the Premier League clubs will not have had their first encounter with racism in their adult years. There would likely have been incidents when they were teenagers or even younger. It is therefore crucial that the education starts during their formative years.
There are no better role models for young children than the Premier League stars themselves. The league has ensured that famous players, both past and present, carry out various campaigns through social media, especially where they talk about how they were affected when racially abused. These heartfelt testimonies of the players will help young people understand the repercussions of racial discrimination against fellow human beings.
Schools have also started to inform students about the Premier League No Room For Racism campaign. Such initiatives teach young people about race and ethnicity and provide fun activities that promote inclusion and highlight the negative effects of racism. Children have been tasked to make posters that encourage people of different cultures to live in harmony and peace. These are just some of the current initiatives designed to help eradicate racism from football in general, the Premier League and society.