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Xenophobia in Sport

Xenophobia in Sport

Football xenophobia is a rather common phenomenon in Great Britain. A study conducted by KickItOut charity and published on March 18 showed that more than half of professional football players in England have witnessed or have been subjected to racist abuse.

The study showed that 57% of footballers have witnessed and 24% have been subjected to racist abuse. 7% were abused by their colleagues. 39% have witnessed homophobic abuse. Some footballers perceive this as part of the football culture.

On February 4, 2014, player from the Welsh Prestatyn FC insulted his rival, Abe Dawson. On March 1, a 17-year-old footballer from Jordan was subjected to verbal abuse during East Stirling v. Peterhead game.

On April 7, 2014, it was reported that Celtic FC player Lee Griffith sang racist songs.

On September 13, 2014, Celtic player Alexander Tonev shouted verbal abuse at Aberdeen FC player Shaia Logan. On September 28, it was reported that Liverpool FC is deleting Jewish New Year’s wishes from twitter after numerous anti-Semitic comments from other users.

On October 5, football fans shouted anti-Semitic abuse at Manchester Maccabi FC during a match with Curzon Ashton FC.

On November 20, 2014, owner of the Wigan Football Club Dave Whealan told The Guardian that Jews supposedly love money more than anyone else, they are “crafty people”, as are the Chinese.

In February 2015, the fans of the British team Chelsea came to Paris to support their club in a match against Paris Saint-Germain and singing songs of racist content ("we are racists, we are racists, and this is how we like it" ), pushed the black guy out of the train car.

According to the information agency Associated Press, from 2012 to 2015 inclusive in the UK there were recorded only 350 football racist incidents. The information is based on 24 police services from all over the country. At the same time, experts believe that officially registered cases constitute, at best, 50% of all actual incidents.

In 2015, the number of such incidents had increased dramatically. According to data published in March 2015, during the World Cup, the number of such incidents was 184 – 35% more than in 2014.

In Scotland, there were a number of cases of football-related xenophobia recorded in 2016. The aforementioned ‘Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2015-16’ published by the Scottish Government detailed how there were “100 football-related charges that contained religious prejudice” in 2015/2016, although “this is an 11% decrease from the 112 football related charges in 2014-15”.

On 28 September Exeter University launched an investigation “into one of its sports societies after students were pictured wearing T-shirts bearing antisemitic and racist slogans during a freshers’ week social event. Photographs of the shirts were shared on Facebook and have caused outrage at the University of Exeter. One T-shirt included the phrases: “Don’t speak to me if you’re not white” and “The Holocaust was a good time”. While the “students wearing the T-shirts cannot be identified in the pictures, but it is believed the offensive tops were linked to the “white T-shirt social”, an event organised by the university’s snow sports society.

In October 2017, the football anti-discrimination campaign, "Kick It Out", received its highest number of UK reports in any year since records began – with 469 reports in 2016/17 trumping 402 in 2015/16. Such statistics also match more anecdotal evidence – with particularly nasty xenophobic instances arising at the start and end of the reporting period. In January 2017, for example, four Chelsea football fans were convicted of racist violence after a black commuter was pushed off a Paris subway and chanting: ‘We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.’ Moreover, in December 2017, the Manchester City and England international striker, Raheem Sterling, was left in a state of ‘complete shock’ after being attacked by an individual as he was leaving a football training ground.

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