Category Archives: Racism in Sport

Footballs Future?

Rodg’s Words

What is the future for football? We have eagerly anticipated the return of football and delightfully consumed the content. However the football we are now witnessing is only the same in name. Of course these are extenuating circumstances and throughout every aspect of football there have been measures taken to protect players and clubs. Is football however going to resort back to normalcy in the future or are things going to change?

The biggest change of course to the game is the introduction of water breaks and 5 substitutions available. While this is of course a preventative measure to try ensure player safety and the water break is likely backed up by sports science, it is hard to not draw comparison to  timeouts, common in American sports. This change if it is to come to fruition will drastically change the flow of the game and it will allow perhaps more tactical in game changes. This may lead to a much slower, less entertaining game. the 5 substitutions could however see an increase in playing time for youngsters and help their development at top clubs. If these changes continue it is almost inevitable that there will eventually be an increase in in game advertising too. With footballs relationship and fondness for allowing sponsorship from betting companies it could be detrimental to many who struggle with a gambling addiction and push others further into betting, something only the wealthy will benefit from.  It would be disappointing to see these changes continue on.

The timing of the games and the constant presence it seems of football on our screens is probably unlikely to occur as in normal times the fans have to be catered for in being able to get to games. However how the Champions league and Europa league are set to be concluded presents a real excitement and potential for what we could see with cup competitions especially those with the elite involved. Could the league season and European season be somewhat separated? Present the European competitions as festivals of football played each year in separate countries across Europe with maybe two groups of 4 comprised of the winners of the previous years league title in the top 4 leagues and 4 other teams who qualified from a format somewhat similar to the current competitions now. This of course is a flawed idea but the thought of updating cup competitions presents an exciting opportunity to innovate in the modern game.

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Champions & Europa League Trophies. What could the future hold for these tournaments? (Image:Goal.com)

Of course hopefully at some time in the next 6 months fans will be allowed back into games and stadiums will roar once more. What of the fan experience that we have seen might stay however? Large screens with pictures and videos of fans? Could added crowd noise be a consistent on our tv screens to generate atmosphere? Perhaps we are in the midst of a reset that will bring even more corporate agendas and money into the game. It seems to be a feature that while yes there have been different mosaics of players and stands drowning in beautiful flags, the advertising has been more prominent. It would be nice to see maybe a more interactive way for fans to be able to support their teams going forward. I think it’s something clubs and media outlets should be continuing to look at how to make the fan experience for both those at the game and at home as enjoyable and interesting as possible.

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The Etihad just before Kick off of Man City vs Arsenal. What will stadiums look like when football returns? (Image:Eurosport.com)

I’ve left the most important to the last perhaps. What of the future for activism in football? The premier league has chosen to champion Black Lives Matter but is that in part due to the attention that it has been able to generate because there is so little else going on. We must not forget the recent troubles of racism in football. Will clubs, leagues, players and managers support individual players if they choose to represent a certain cause they feel strongly on that won’t harm anyone? Hopefully this moment represents a time where football actively promotes their players as activists and individuals who are representative of all of us. In my world political messages that do no harm are welcome in sport and sport is a beautiful opportunity for messages of inclusion to be spread. I hope to see a strong message sent out in the coming years that promotes equality and inclusion in the sport from individuals and organisations. Of course they have to look from within to begin by creating a space in the mens game where a gay or bi man can exist openly and financially supporting and respecting the women who play the game and the joy they can bring us.

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Black Lives Matter on the back of a Sheffield United Jersey. (Image:InsideHook.com)

Footballs future is unknown. Am I hopeful? I’m not sure but there have been promising signs but hey we’re only one Fifa corruption scandal or the potential Newcastle takeover from denting  a hole in all my hope. Football certainly has a future at the top level which will be entertaining and gripping. As for everyone lower on the pyramid, in the words of Natasha Beddingfield; “The rest is still unwritten”.

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Fighting Racism in Ireland

By Tiwani Akinlabi

My name is Tiwani Akinlabi. I’ll let you work out how to pronounce that yourself. I am a student in IT Carlow studying Sports Management and Coaching (Soccer). I am a football coach. I am 20 years old. I am an Arsenal fan. And also, you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m Irish. The events of the past week, stretching from George Floyd’s merciless killing and subsequent outrage to the Black Lives Matter protests in America and now reaching Ireland, have led to me speaking out on the abuse and mistreatment of one of my identifying factors. I am a young black male.

In football, and especially in coaching methodology, players enact football actions. For example, these football actions would be anything you do on the pitch, from passing, dribbling and shooting to tackling, saving and blocking the ball. These actions comprise of three elements: communication, decision, execution. Communication is the visual, audio and verbal cues in a game. Decision is the conclusion you come to based on the communication.Execution is carrying out the act of the decision you made. You see a striker running behind, decide to play the pass through to them, and pass the ball with some amount of force past the defender to your striker. This process permeates every single act taken on a football pitch, but I believe that it applies on a much wider scale. Our actions in everyday life are made through communication, decision and execution as well.

This was certainly the case on 25th May 2020, when 46 year old George Floyd was arrested for an alleged counterfeit note. Floyd was arrested by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who proceeded to kneel on his neck to restrain Floyd, despite the fact that Floyd was already in handcuffs and was surrounded by 3 other officers. Floyd pleaded for his life, stating that he was in pain and “can’t breathe”, as well as knowing that if his pleas did not work, he would be killed. 9 minutes later, with Chauvin not having removed his knee from Floyd’s neck, Floyd was dead. Chauvin was put into a situation. Chauvin heard the communication when Floyd begged for his life, Chauvin made his decision by refusing to listen to his victim, and executed this decision by executing Floyd.

This racially charged attack may not be anywhere near the norm in Ireland, however to say that due to the lack of violent racial crime in our country indicates a lack of racism here is really very naive. To say that white privilege is a myth is naive. To say that black people in Ireland would never have been exposed to racial microaggressions is naive. As part of the black community here in Ireland, racism may not be a everyday occurrence but it sure crops up too often for anyone’s liking. The past week has shown as much, with many black Irish people revealing their experiences with racism on this island. As much as some people would like to think so, Ireland is not innocent.

The largest participation sport in the country is Football. I was included on Post to Post Sport’s domestic football podcast Get Your Bleak On alongside Wexford Youths Womens’ Blessing Kingsley and Vanessa Ogbonna, as well as UCC midfielder Ify Nzewi and a friend of ours Josh Ofem. We all had stories to tell of racism in our lives, from overt verbal abuse on the football pitch, to more subtle microaggressions such as stereotypical jokes about our race and culture in general life. It does not stop with us. Young Waterford FC and Ireland underage player Tega Agberhiere was splashed with acid last year in a case of mistaken identity. His attackers were not charged and only given a caution for their crime. Arsenal icon Ian Wright was sent racially aggressive messages online by an Irish teenager in early May. Gardaí have investigated the incident, with nothing further having been said so far. Direct Provision is a system which continues to barely provide basic human rights to refugees and asylum seekers. A mixed race family featured on a Lidl advert were forced to move to England over online abuse that stated they did not resemble an ‘Irish family’. Travellers have been on the end of hatred and jokes for years.

Wexford Youths Striker Blessing Kingsley playing for her native country of the Republic of Ireland (Image: FAI.ie)

Look at the comments sections on Facebook under media posts about Black Lives Matter protests taking place over the last weekend. Some posts have included memes of absent black father stereotypes, calls to “load up the rubber bullets”, and accusations of being attention seeking teenagers with nothing to do. Black people have communicated their exasperation at the consistent racial abuse we have received. We have had enough of being treated as less important than white people. We are tired of people deciding that our skin, our features and our culture is something to be mocked and used against us in order to put us down. The message is clear: Racism will no longer be tolerated. We have protested, we have brought as much awareness as possible, and we will no longer be quiet about this.

What matters now is your decision. You, dear Reader. What will you decide? Will you decide to stand with us? Will you stand with us? Will you listen to our cries? Will you execute this decision by joining our voices in condemning people for their prejudices? Especially if it is your mother, father, best friend, teacher, coach? Will you protest with us on the streets? Will you also shout ‘Enough is Enough’?

Or will you decide to ignore us? Will you continue on in your belief that your country is flawless and incapable of hatred? Will you continue to post hollow black squares on your social media pages, claiming our slogans, but then laughing at that meme comparing black people to monkeys and donning blackface during Halloween? Will you execute your ignorance and naivety by claiming ‘All Lives Matter’ and that we are complaining over nothing? That we are nothing but snowflakes who cannot take a joke?

That is where the real racism lies. Not in the obscene and obvious discrimination we face, be it in the systematic form or the blatant moment in the heat of the pitch. But in the silence that you hold in reaction to these events. In the way you dismiss the pain it causes us, telling us “calm down, I was only joking”. The only thing worse than experiencing racism is seeing someone who had the power to help you stop it stand idly by and watch it happen.

I admit, I was not born in Ireland. I arrived with my family when I was 3. I grew up here. I fell in love with football here. I fell in love with the culture, the people, the roar of Lansdowne on the final note of Amhran na BhFiann, the beautiful landscapes of this land. I pray that one day, my children or even myself will get to represent the Boys or Girls in Green. No black person is asking to take over this island. We are simply asking that you, the native Irish person, sees us the as the exact same as yourself. Because like you, we are proudly Irish.

(Image: IrishCentral.Com)

If you have decided yourself that our cause is one worth joining, please sign the petitions below:

Introduce the teaching of Black History in Irish Schools

http://chng.it/m7TmgVZ9Lj

End Direct Provision in Ireland

http://chng.it/LVqJxCKTM2

Justice for Tega Agberhiere

https://www.change.org/p/justice-for-tega-agberhiere-charge-the-perpetrators

National Action Plan Against Racism

http://chng.it/rgZXXPWSvK

You can listen to our podcast on Being Black In Irish Football here

Or listen on Spotify below

You can get our podcasts on most platforms by searching Post to Post Sport

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