Is football a racist sport?

By Ecclésiaste DEUDJUI
3 Minutes
Le Sénégalais Demba Ba (au centre) s
Le Sénégalais Demba Ba (au centre) s'en prend au quatrième arbitre (à gauche) pour protester contre ses propos racistes. Source: /Image reprise sous autorisation

The last night's incidents during the match between Paris Saint-Germain and the club of Basaksehir, have brought back an unknown face of racism that is rampant in international football.
For reminder, the match was interrupted as early as the 16th minute while the score was again from 0-0. The fourth referee, the now very famous Sébastien Coltescu, a Romanian, took action against Cameroonian Pierre Achille Webo (deputy Coach Stambouliote) calling him “negro”. The case would could go unnoticed if there had been public in the stands, or if Senegalese Demba Ba and his teammates had not shown this strength character and responsibility.

The match was therefore interrupted at the 16th minute and reprogrammed for this Wednesday. What questions is the effectiveness of anti-racism campaigns that are regularly conducted by the FIFA-UEFA duo, notably through numerous advertising spots, slogans, various initiatives, etc. even as the umbrella bodies of football had joined the #BlackLivesMatter movement following the death of Georges Floyd, and that for example all Premier matches League systematically start with knees down...

Already, let us say that when we talk about racism in football, it is very often anti-black racism that is all about! And players from all continents are generally victims: Brazilians, Ivorians, Afro-Europeans, North Americans, Black-Arabs, etc. stigma is often done through monkey cries and appellations vulgar such as “Kirikou”, “Dirty Negro”, “Small Black”, “Eh, the Black” and many more.
Reputation of the player or even his talent do not spare him, since majestic players like Samuel Eto'o or Neymar (moreover, Métis) have already been taken to part. There are even major championships such as the one in Italy that is regularly point out by these forms of discrimination, the public's share or via unsustainable comments by certain leaders of clubs.

Football is not a separate island and therefore cannot be extirpated from sociological environments in which it is practiced. Thus, the fascist groups of Eastern Europe that pretend to be supporters, show their hatred in stadiums towards people of black color. There are also suprematists assumed who tolerate black players in case of victories, and who ostracize and fustigent in case of unperformance.

The scenario of last night is even more worrying in that it directly criminalizes the arbitral body, which is nevertheless supposed to advocate equality and other values valued by UEFA. So how to understand whether it is an official referee, in a decisive Champions League match, which allows to call upon a participant by his skin color, when he would not ever dared with a Caucasian person?
It means simply that the fight against racism in the world of football, is still really far from over.

Ecclesiastes Deudjui

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Sébastien Coltescu
Achille Webo