I love football. It’s an obsession. Recalling my childhood memories hinges on Liverpool were playing that day. I associate my parents’s separation with a 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal in 2007. That’s how much the game means to me. On possibly the worst day of my life, I was comforted by the fact that my team were playing, and I could watch them with my Dad and forget about whatever problems we might be having. Last June, after watching Liverpool beat Tottenham to win the Champions League surrounded by all my friends in Stags, it was something as euphoric that I doubt I will experience until later life (as cringeworthy as it may sound).
So it kills me to see young players such as Tammy Abraham go through the vile and pathetic abuse after missing a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup final. It kills me. It should do to everyone who had the misfortune of witnessing such pitiful antics. What made it so much worse was that the abuse came from his own fans. Chelsea, who have a minority of fans with a shameful record when it comes to racism, are now embroiled in yet another inexcusable scandal because of the behaviour of some of their own fans. They targeted one of their own – a man merely 21 years of age – labelled him with names that are so awful they cannot be repeated. Abraham in making the jump from Championship football to the Premier League, is now unwittingly at the forefront of the abuse that has been targeted at players of colour, most notably Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling.
Sterling, has found himself the target of not only racial abuse from the stands but an unrelenting assault from the media critical of his purchasing of a new house, to having breakfast the morning after a defeat. Certainly the tabloid press in Britain have targeted Sterling for his success and despite those who maintain it is natural for the press to target successful sportsmen as in the way David Beckham has been in the past, evidence pointed out by Sterling suggests that the newfound criticism is in fact racially motivated.
After an incident away at Chelsea in December last year, Sterling took to social media to comment on the hypocrisy and detrimental effect of the media. He cited the different ways that the Daily Mail published stories about two young players who had spent money on a new home. Both of similar experience. However, the headlines paint the purchase by Tosin Adarabioyo, as negative due to his never starting a League match, with Phil Foden being praised for his family values for doing the same thing.
Sterling has carried himself immaculately since his move to Manchester City and his performances in the last 2 years make him an inspiring figure to young black players. Sterling has taken the fight to those who are responsible for the growth of racism within football. He will no longer allow his image to be tarnished by false tales of immaturity from the media who are targeting purely due to the colour of his skin.
It would also be extremely hypocritical if I did not examine the acts of racism that have occurred from Liverpool supporters recently. The teams trip to Barcelona was marred by scenes of Liverpool fans pushing and crowding a man of Asian descent into a fountain. As someone who despises racism, this was in many ways the worst. Fans of the team I support, who have condemned such behaviour in the past, were now guilty of the same crime. It was sickening.
In July of this year, the anti-racism group Kick it Out published a report that stated incidents of racism at football games had increased by 43% in the 2018/19 season. These figures are troubling, with the calls for Social Media to do more to prevent such antics so far being unsuccessful. Since the Abraham incident, these calls have increased with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba facing the same abuse for missing a penalty in a league match against Wolves. Pogba has been heavily backed by his teammates, with striker Marcus Rashford tweeting that he had had enough of the vile abuse targeted at players of colour.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) August 20, 2019
Each episode of racism within football is as pitiful and shameful as the last. The real issue now is that as we are seeing it more and more as time goes on, it doesn’t shock or surprise anymore. Social Media now allows people to abuse players of colour as they wish. They feel they can hide and get away with it. At football ground, people are overcome with anger and vent this at players of colour. Why this thuggery still exists, I am baffled. It is palpable that much more has to be done to stop it. How can we love a game that encourages people to descend to the lowest form of decency that is humanly possible?