10 of football’s worst racist incidents

Racism is a growing problem in football around the world, here are 10 times it's appeared in the professional game.

Racism is a worldwide problem that has managed to worm its way into sport, football included.

It’s a problem that is scattered across the football leagues, from Sunday league pub teams to semi-professional non-league outfits, all the way up to Premier League football.

You would think that due to constant media coverage and scrutiny that acts of racism wouldn’t be so common in the professional game. However, that’s not the case.

Here are 10 times racism reared its ugly head in the professional football:

John Terry & Anton Ferdinand

Ferdinand (left) and Terry (right) were playing against each other in the London derby when the incident occurred. (Image: BBC)

Chelsea and England captain John Terry was fined £220,000 by the Football Association and banned for four matches after allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Terry and Anton, the younger brother of Rio Ferdinand, clashed during a Premier League match where the Blues skipper allegedly called the Queens Park Rangers defender a “black ****”

The 31-year-old was later cleared by Westminster Magistrates’ Court of racially abusing the QPR man, after a four day trial.

Dani Alves & Villarreal fans

Racism isn’t exclusive to one-on-one between players. It’s largely coming from football fans. That was the case when a Villarreal fan launched a banana at the Barcelona right-back, when he went to take a corner kick.

In an act of defiance, Alves picked up the banana and began to eat it, something that sparked a social media outpour of players and fans supporting the Brazilian.

The act was considered as “committing an act of contempt or disregard concerning racial or ethnic origin towards an adversary”. As a result, Villarreal were fined €12,000 by the Spanish Football Association.

Sulley Muntari & Cagliari fans


Image result for Sulley Muntari pescara
Sulley Muntari has played for Portsmouth, Inter Milan and AC Milan. (Image: WikiCommons)

Another example of how fans facilitate racism in football, was when Cagliari fans racially abused footballer Sulley Muntari to the point he walked of the pitch.

When Pescara met Cagliari in a Serie A league match, the former Portsmouth midfielder stormed off the pitch after trying to tell the referee he was receiving abuse from Cagliari’s fans.

Muntari was initially banned for one game, after being booked for decent, the ban was overturned shortly after details of the incident came to light.

Samuel Eto’o & Real Zargoza

Samuel Eto’o was at the peak of his powers when playing for Barcelona, and was arguably one of the best strikers in the world. This didn’t deter Real Zargoza fans from racially abusing him during a game in 2006.

In protest, the Cameroonian striker attempted to leave the field, refusing to play. He was later convinced by his team-mates and officials to carry on with the game.

Real Zargoza were only fined €600 for the incident.

Didier Zokora & Emre Belözoğlu

Turkish footballer Emre received a two-and-a-half-year suspended prison sentence after using a ‘racial slur’ against Ivorian Didier Zokora.

Zokora and Emre clashed during a match between Turkish giants Fenerbache and Trabzonspor in 2012.

The incident soon became infamous after many of the Trabzonspor team sought revenge on Emre in the reverse league fixture. They began to constantly foul him, kicking him a few times in the process.

Danny Rose & Serbian fans

England U21’s were facing Serbia in the second leg of a qualifying game when now Tottenham left-back Danny Rose was subject to racist chants and abuse throughout the game.

Rose, 22 at the time, alleged he was hit in the heads with stones and on the receiving end of monkey chants from Serbian fans throughout the game.

England scored a last minute goal, resulting in a 2-0 aggregate win, and tensions finally exploded as celebrations commenced.

Some Serbian fans ran onto the pitch after Danny Rose let out his aggravation. Players began to huddle round the left-back and pushing ensued. In the end the England players were smuggled down a tunnel to the changing rooms.

The incident lead to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for UEFA to impose “tough sanctions” on racism.

Ron Atkinson & Marcel Desailly

The oldest case of racism on this article was from ex-manager Ron Atkinson. Atkinson was commentating on the Champions League match between Monaco and Chelsea in 2004, when he referred to Desailly as a ‘f***ing lazy thick n*****’.

The former Manchester United manager believed his microphone was switched off and broadcasting had stopped in the UK, but he was still being aired in other countries.

atkinson (mirrorpix)
Ron Atkinson immediately resigned after his comments. (Image: Mirrorpix)

Atkinson immediately resigned from ITV, saying: “I made a stupid mistake which I regret. It left me no option but to resign. At the moment I can’t believe I did it.

“If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance.”

Romelu Lukaku & Manchester fans

Racism from opposition fans to a player is unfortunately extremely common, but racism towards your own player?

Manchester United fans have come under fire after a singing a chant about their new £75million striker Romelu Lukaku.

In the song, United fans make a reference to the size of Lukaku’s penis, something that has been criticised for sexulaising the player and stereotyping him because of his skin colour.

The song was: “Romelu Lukaku, he’s our Belgium scoring genius, he’s got a 24 inch penis, scoring all the goals, b*****d to his toes.”

Manchester United released an official statement declaring they had a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on offensive chanting and behaviour.

Chelsea fans & French commuter

Chelsea Football Club and their fans were plunged into scrutiny and criticism after video footage emerged of their fans not allowing a French commuter onto the metro after their Champions League match with Paris Saint Germain.

The short clip showed Chelsea fans pushing a black Frenchman off the train, whilst chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

The footage went viral online and sparked worldwide criticism from people online, who called for the club to take action.

Four Chelsea fans were given suspended prison sentences at the beginning of the year for the incident in 2015.

Patrice Evra & Luis Suarez

evra suarez
Suarez (left) and Evra (right) clashed during a match between Liverpool and Man United (Images: WikiCommons)

Perhaps the most memorable racist row of the past few years was the confrontation between Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

The two players clashed in a 1-1 draw between the rivals in 2011, where Suarez allegedly used racist language, including Evra’s skin colour towards the Frenchman.

The Uruguayan striker was handed a eight-match ban after being charged by the Football Association.

The controversy didn’t end there as when Suarez returned from suspension and shortly faced Manchester United he refused to shake Evra’s hand, something that wasn’t received well by the fans and Man United team.

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