Racism Still an Issue in Soccer

Tyler Solis, Staff Writer

Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Some soccer fans use racism to insult players, intimidate players, and even to show respect to players, but that is just disrespectful to the players. Racism is something that should not exist anymore, and especially in soccer and sports. There are many other ways to show passion for a team than using racial slurs. Soccers players are having to deal with this behavior and it is unacceptable. I wrote an article ten months ago and I hoped it was the only time I would talk about racism in soccer, but unfortunately the problem is growing and getting worse.   

The first incident occurred on September 7th in Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia was facing Portugal in a Euro 2020 qualifying match. Portugal won the game 4-2 against Serbia. UEFA charged the Football Association of Serbia with illicit chants, racist behavior, field invasion by supporters, and setting off fireworks. Serbia will face a punishment that includes: a ban that does not allow fans in the stadium for the next two home games for Serbia, a fine of $37,000, and Serbia will display banners that says #EqualGame in the empty stands. One Serbian fan was also banned for one year because of his behavior during the game. This punishment is too little. UEFA should have punished the Serbian Football Association a minimum of 1 million dollars in fines, a stadium ban for 6 months, and hundreds of fans banned not for a year but for life. Strict punishment is the only UEFA can combat racism in European soccer. 

The second incident happened in Bulgaria on October 14th. England traveled to the city of Sofia in Bulgaria to play in a European Champions qualifying match. Garth Southgate managed the English Men’s National Team to a 6-0 win. Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling both had a pair of goals, while Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford had a goal a piece. The headlines would have said England cruise to an easy win against Bulgaria, but something terrible happened. Bulgaria fans started to make monkey chants and display Nazis salutes. The match had to be stopped twice because of the behavior from the home crowd. UEFA punished the Bulgarian Football Union, fining them over $83,000; they also had to play the next home game with no home fans. 

UEFA did not punish Bulgaria, they just slapped them on the wrist with that “punishment.” The attendance at the game was around 20,000 people. UEFA fined them 75,000 Euros, which meant the Bulgarian Football Union would have still made money if everyone who attended paid 5 Euros for a ticket. In reality, the Bulgarian Football Unions profited on the game and did not really get punished for their actions. I believe the punishment should have been upwards of 2 million Euros and a six-month ban for fans at home games. UEFA should have also banned the people who were making those chants. 

UEFA is claiming they are dealing with racism but with these weak punishments, the problem will only keep  getting worse. Players will retire because of the racism that is going on. FIFA should also give their own punishment to the team/organization so it is a stricter punishment so racism in soccer can be stopped. The sooner FIFA gets racism out of the game of soccer, the better. Players will have a better time playing for their team. Spectators will enjoy their experience at the games more and they will continue to go to games and cheer on their team. Managers will have a better time managing the club and will focus on their team more and not have to focus on their fans affecting their players. The overall soccer experience will be better for everyone. FIFA has to step up to the challenge that faces them.