October 4, 2023

Premier League: The booing never stops

Premier League: The booing never stops

Status: 08/13/2021 4:57 AM

In the end, the events surrounding the European Football Championship final showed: English football has a racism problem. And just before the Premier League kicked off today, accidents happened again. How is the reaction of the league?

Written by Christoph Brussel, ARD-Studio London

In the Super Cup final between Chelsea and Villarreal, it became clear again: there is an argument about racism in English football – more precisely: about the gesture of equality and against the racism that many players have been making for months. When the Chelsea players knelt on Wednesday night before the match, many fans booed loudly, as heard on the British Telecom broadcast.

Christoph Brussel
ARD-Studio London

There is widespread controversy about kneeling in England. In May, the Premier League Players’ Association published a report highlighting the extent of racist attacks online. 44 percent of all players have already been offended – a huge increase. And after the final of the European Football Championship, the three English black players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka suffered a real storm because they did not score on penalties.

Corporate Appeal and Politics

The British Football Association is tackling this issue, but it also sees companies and politics as having an obligation. In an interview with ARD-Studio London Diversity and Inclusion Director Edlin John said:

“In my view, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms are not doing enough to contain the attacks. These messages must be deleted before they become online. And companies must take action to make clear that anyone who posts hateful content must face consequences not just a ban. Temporarily, but permanently ban.

Try an explanatory break

In the spring, some clubs tried to increase the pressure by taking a break from social media. The platforms need to be hit where they are sensitive: if football is no longer played on them, the usage figures drop as well. The Football Association endorsed this approach. The government is currently working on a new law to reduce hate speech and racism online and to better prosecute.

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Edlin John from the Football Association says:

We need a review of the facts and anonymity must become impossible. These are the terms of insult. Profiles are set up, hate messages are sent and deleted again. And that’s in a matter of minutes. That must be addressed. At the moment, we see that this problem of anonymity is far from being addressed in the legislation.

Only a small portion is eaten

The investigation carried out by the special police unit after the European Football Championship final shows the extent of the problem. 207 publications were classified as criminal, 34 were sent from Great Britain, and eleven were arrested. In Edlin John’s view, this is a strong signal that hate mail is not without consequences. But it can also be inferred from the numbers: in the end, only a few identifiable people are identified.

John asserts that racism is a social phenomenon as a whole. Football is a mirror of society. It advocates the prevention of racism as early as upbringing.

Bukayo Saka, one of the three national players who took part in the storm, received a lot of encouragement after the final against Italy. He thanked him in a letter and wrote: “This is what football is all about. Enthusiasm brings people of all races, genders and religions together because they share the joy of sport.”