Is There Racism in Football?

Throughout history, there have been cases of people thinking they were better than other people, based on things as trivial as skin color; it was not an individual thing, as we have seen entire countries become obsessed with this, which was the issue that was partly settled in the previous century. Of course, it is present even today, though far less than it used to be, but how did racism manifest itself in the game of football?

About the concept of racism

For millennia, racism was present in the world; it simply meant that one group would possess preferential treatment, or were treated worse, compared to another, based on a thing no single person from that group could influence or change. The key was locked in their DNA. Especially today, racism revolves about believing that one race is somehow physically or mentally more advanced or more developed. Although the concept, as it is, was not at all a new idea, the term “racism” is somewhat younger, as it dates back to the thirties, when it was introduced. This, of course, does not mean that the issue of racism began in the thirties; it was just becoming more prominent, with things like Nazi ideology becoming more and more popular at that point in time, and the concept of race placed firmly in the midst of it all. And while a lot has been done to eradicate this problem, we can still see it pop out every now and then in our society and football is not an exception.

Racism in football

In a worldwide community such as this, it is very easy to notice instances of racism wherever you look. Sometimes, it can be systemic racism, like the apartheid policy that South Africa had in the twentieth century, which affected their national football team, as well, in the sense that only white players can be chosen to play. This was heavily criticized at the time, but it lasted in South Africa for nearly thirty years, which resulted in other African countries boycotting this policy, which prevented South Africa from entering international tournaments, like AFCON, until the segregation policy was abolished. However, the problem does not end there, as racial discrimination operates both on an institutional, as well as on a personal level with some people. Some players, like Kevin-Prince Boateng, Paul Pogba, and Mario Balotelli, often point out the unpleasant experiences they have with some abusive and racist fans.

Racism in the institutions

One could also point out the racism that can be seen behind the scenes of football. Even though almost nobody openly practices racial discrimination, analysis shows that it is still deeply ingrained in the nature of football, especially in Europe. There are far fewer coaches of color, as they are viewed as more “physical” in nature, and not as “intellectual”. There is also a significant lack of people of color in positions of power or any prominent positions.


We have done a lot to try to eliminate racism from every aspect of our lives. However, something that runs as deep as these things go, we need to arm ourselves with patience, as the job might not be easy. Nevertheless, it is a job that needs to be done, for the sake of humankind.