Firstly, I think it is important that we clarify that it is not the sole responsibility of football and its governing bodies to solve the issue of racism. It is a problem that society as a whole has to bear and our education system needs to eradicate. However there are some things that UEFA and FIFA can do to help eliminate the problem. It is no secret that in Britain, perhaps more so than in other parts of the world, football is an important part of our society and can make a real difference.
Yaya Toure spoke out against the monkey chants he was met with whilst playing CSKA Moscow in the Champions League this week. He has since considered whether or not that black players could possibly boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 2018 is a long time away but I don’t propose that we can expect to eradicate racist chanting in football in the space of five years- it’s an issue that will take generations to solve. Instead of black players facing the difficult choice of whether or not they want to represent their nations at a World Cup, perhaps FIFA should have thought more carefully about to who they should award the prestigious tournament.
The events that happened in Moscow this week are not isolated; Zenit St. Petersburg are another established Russian side that has been involved in a number of racist incidents. So why then would FIFA decide to reward Russia the World Cup? Perhaps if they had openly said to the world that Russia would not host a tournament until they can solve their problems with racist factions of fans, it would have had an impact on how fans behave in Russia.
By giving Russia the World Cup, FIFA have given themselves nothing but problems. The same can be said of awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a place where homosexuality is illegal. This hardly sends the message to modern day footballers and young children who play the game that is ok to be gay in our sport.
It is time for teams and countries to be excluded from tournaments
Whilst racism is a problem which football alone does not have to tackle, it can certainly help and certainly should. It is time that derisory penalties are eradicated—UEFA fined Lazio £35,000 pounds for their fans abuse of black Tottenham players, a sum that many of their players will make in a week. It is time for teams and countries to be excluded from tournaments if they cannot control the small number of fans who ruin the games image for the majority who just want to appreciate a sport they care about.