Actions speak louder than words: Football must do more to tackle racism


As a black journalist the sight of 22 players and backroom staff kneeling in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of every match over the last fortnight has been very powerful. That was no different on Friday night at Griffin Park as I watched Brentford take on West Brom from the press box.

The killing of George Floyd last month has fuelled a debate into how racism is seen and handled in all parts of society, sports included. Whilst it might be a sudden wake-up call for those living in a bubble of privilege, this has been an ongoing battle for generations and has only now gained real momentum, especially within football.

A few years ago or maybe even weeks ago, many would have found it unimaginable to see “Black Lives Matter” on football shirts, but recent events has mounted pressure on those in the football hierarchy to do their bit in tackling racism.

However, I do feel as though a lot more can be done other than gestures like replacing name on shirts with ‘Black Lives Matter’, after all actions do speak louder than words.

Diversity within all areas of football has been of discussion for a long time. To start with, the number of black managers in English football speaks for itself. Following Sol Campbell’s departure from Southend United this week, there are now only five black managers occupying the top 92 clubs in the country. Within the FA there is not one person of colour, let alone a black person, and the numbers within sports media aren’t something to cheer about.

Even on the field of play not enough has been done. Whilst there is an acceptance that education plays a key role in tackling racism, some players’ silence has been nothing short of deafening. They have been too comfortable to allow their team mates to carry the burden while they hide behind campaigns like UEFA’s “equal game” which has been nothing short of fruitless. Whilst credit must be given to a player like Hector Bellerin who has used his big platform to open up a dialogue, the senior players must also take a stance against racism. They have a responsibility to use their power of influence to set an example to the younger generation and put it to good use as shown by Marcus Rashford recently.

Some may see this as a ‘moment’ that will blow over after a period of time, but the fight for equality, especially within football, must continue beyond the news headlines and campaigns. It maybe uncomfortable at times but if change is to happen these discussions must continue until there is a level playing field for all on and off the pitch.


About Author

Football correspondent from London covering the Premier League Football and EFL.

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