With a race row brewing in France we thought we would look back at a podcast from October 2008 when we featured a campaign by the organisation Kick It Out which set up an anti-racism campaign in England. There is a transcript below, while explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained. There is also a worksheet (with answers) which can be downloaded here Kick Racism Out Worksheet.pdf
Racism in football is thankfully dying out, mainly in part to the Kick It Out campaign that has raised awareness about the issue since it was formed in 1993. To celebrate its fifteen years of existence, it has just held ten days of action around the UK to continue in the fight to stamp out racial discrimination in the game. So, on this week’s main report we take a look at the story of black footballers in England.
That was John Barnes scoring a wonder goal for England against Brazil in 1984 in the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio to help the national team win 2-0. Barnes became an overnight sensation, eventually earning himself a move to Liverpool and going on to win 79 caps for his country and scoring 12 times. But not everyone was happy after that performance against Brazil, with some England supporters abusing him on the plane home and refusing to accept that England had even scored two goals thanks to his colour. Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour was prevalent at the time but had really begun in the 1970s when black players first started to establish themselves in clubs up and down the country. Monkey chants, bananas being thrown onto the pitch and calls for them to go home were fairly common occurrences.
Barnes was not the first black player to represent his country, that distinction belongs to Nottingham Forest’ s Viv Anderson who made his debut in November 1978. Since then there have been 56 black players who have represented their country. The first goal scorer was Watford’s Luther Blissett the year before John Barnes’ wonder goal in Brazil. The first black captain was Paul Ince in 1993 and since then both Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand have repeated the honour. And how about the first black national team manager? That would be Hope Powell of course. She has been the England’s women’s team coach for the past ten years and lead them to a successful campaign in the World Cup in China last year (2007). However, with only one black British manager ever in the Premier League, Paul Ince again, it might be some time before her male colleagues can emulate her at the national level.
So, has racism disappeared from football in Britain? It would be naive to think that it has. As recently as 2000 a Home Office report suggested that England fans had abused their own team’s black players in a match against France, while in 2005 the FA had to apologise and withdraw a DVD that celebrated post-war England internationals after not including any black players in it. Furthermore, racist chanting can still be heard up and down football grounds though thankfully not on the scale of two or three decades ago and of course, there has only ever been one black top-flight manager.
Another area of concern is with the lack of Asian footballers playing at a high level. Despite the fact that thousands participate every weekend there are only five professional players currently in the game – a ridiculously low figure considering the population. Improved education, better scouting and increased cultural awareness can help to stop the marginalisation of this section of the community. Thankfully, groups such as Kick it out are working on their behalf.
to stamp out: To eliminate completely
overnight sensation: The player became famous overnight
caps: Appearances for the national team
was prevalent: Widespread, common
distinction: That honour
emulate: To reach the same level as
naive: simple, innocent
on the scale of: at the same level as
top-flight: The top division, the Premier League
the marginalisation: Creating divisions in society