Racism in sport Statistics Summary

Racism in sport


This research project aims to cover the topic of racism in sport and the campaigns and programs put into place, especially football in the UK in the last year has been massively highlighted in the media. Jarvie and Reid (1997) state race, gender, and sports controversies have become commonplace in the media, but they have been largely ignored in sport. Racism is socially still a problem worldwide however this report will show racism is still a problem in the sport today from grassroots all the way to the high level.  Cutlip et al. (2008) Racism continues to be a pervasive problem throughout world society (Jones, 1997; Ponterotto, Utsey, & Pedersen, 2006). Manifestations of racism are direct and indirect, blatant and subtle in contemporary society (Ridley, 2005).

For many years sport and racism seem to be associated together, going all the way back to the 1936 Berlin Olympics games Jesse Owens caused an uproar by winning 4 gold medals thus eradicating Hitler’s idea of “white supremacy”. This historic incident not only led to Hitler’s failure to acknowledge the greatness of Owens but also resulted in president Roosevelt refusal to invite Owens to the white house as he didn’t want to offend conservative voters by being seen with Owens, who was by then one of the world’s most famous black sportspeople. (The Sports campus, 2012)

And more recently allegations that Premier league footballer John Terry racially abused an opponent on the pitch have raised an issue that many thoughts had gone away. Despite numerous high-profile campaigns and a truly multicultural workplace, is racism still rife in the premier league. (The Guardian, 2012)


Research question

Is racism in sport still a problem? And if so are the programs in place helping to eradicate this problem?

Aims and hypothesis

It has been argued by many sections within the sporting community that racism in sport is still a problem whilst others have argued that is not the case. The English FA says much has been achieved in making football “safe for all and free from abuse and discrimination”, but it recognizes there are many challenges still to be faced.  It has revealed there were 144 incidents of misconduct in which racism was an aggravating factor during the 2011-2012 seasons. (BBC Sport Football, 2012)

There are also campaigns and programs created to try and eradicate and highlight the problems of racism in sport, the main one being Kick It Out which was established as a campaign with the brand name ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ in 1993 and as an organization in 1997.

The aim of this research project is to find out if there is a problem of racism in sport and is the programs or campaigns in place working. And will investigate the hypothesis that proves or disprove that “racism in sport still exists” and “campaigns to combat racism in sport are working or not”.


The topic for this research project is “Racism in Sports?”. It starts with an introductory part which has served to elaborate the research topic. Racism is defined as unfair treatment or prejudice or acting with partiality towards someone because of their race. It simply refers to showing favor to the people of your race, at the expense of the other race. The research question for this research proposal is whether there is racism in sports today and if there are structures and policies to deal with that.

The research hypothesis states that: There is no racism in sports. This hypothesis has been disapproved since the research problem is to seek to establish and give evidence as to whether there are instances of racism in different games.

Under a literature review, a number of resources shall be examined to ascertain whether racism exists, or gain information related to racism. Resources include sports journals, the internet, books, etc. In doing analysis, the research will cross-examine different sources of information and the evidence obtained to ascertain whether there is a problem of racism in sports. In the conclusion part, the researcher will give a brief statement of his findings.

Literature review

For many (although certainly not all) participants, fans, and media commentators, racism in professional sport in the UK is now perceived as largely a thing of the past. Any remnants are seen to be perpetrated by a decreasing number of residual bigots, who reside on the terraces rather than in the locker-rooms, management offices, and boardrooms. (Burdsey, D, 2011.)

Racism in sport has in some ways even been denied from high officials such as the FIFA president Sepp Blatter, asked if racism was a problem on the pitch, Blatter had earlier told CNN World Sport: ”I would deny it. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, and he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one.  ”But also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game”. (The Telegraph, 2012).

Remarkably after UEFA fined the Spanish FA after Spain fans racially abused an Italian player during Euro 2012 and Barcelona player Dani Alves said racism in the Spanish game is “uncontrollable”. But Angel Villa Llona, president of the Spanish FA and a member of both FIFA and UEFA’s executive committee insisted racism was not a problem.

Asked how racism in Spanish football compared to the game in England, which has had two high-profile cases of abuse cases in the last year, Villa Llona said: “There is no racism in Spanish football.” (The Independent, 2012).

However, Colin King from the Black and Asian Coaches Association disagrees, he says his organization’s 600 members report at least three cases of racism a week, “…from being called things like ‘Paki’, to the ‘N-word’. We’ve still got the monkey-shouting that takes place from parents and other managers as well. I do park football every week and I see racial abuse consistently.” (BBC Sport, 2012)

Over one month prior to the World Cup finals that were held in Australia, rugby in South Africa was rocked by big racism scandals. Geo Cronje was expelled from the squad because of what was termed as his refusal to share a residential room with Quinton Davids, a black player. Davids is one of the greatest stars and plays in Cape Town, for the Western Province and was expected to play a big role significant role in the campaigns for Springbok. Press accounts reported that Cronje had to be ordered by the coach to share a room with Davids during training at Pretoria. However, it was reported that Cronje declined, claiming that he was not ready to share toilet, bathroom, or shower with Davids.

South African Rugby managing director, Rian Oberholzer ordered that Cronje be axed from the squad with an immediate effect. Furious Oberholzer said that they don’t tolerate racism in rugby at all and that the allegations would be investigated and evaluations made as to whether there was a necessity for judicial hearing about the same. Ngconde Balfour, who was the Sports Minister, welcomed the move by the coach and said that they should not taint the whole camp due to two or three cases of racism.

Recently, an incident was reported in a playoff a game where Anthony Mundine of St Georges was allegedly involved in abuse. In the report, it was said that he was abused by a professional colleague. Rugby league has been mentioned in so many racial incidents, for example, Billy Boston at one time admitted to that he was a victim of racism where he had suffered a lot of racial abuse over his career of playing but he took it lightly so as not to let it affect his sporting career.

It is said that Boston was a victim of racial abuse in the 1957 incident which actually affected him. Great Britain was about to travel to South Africa for a test series that were so great, the  South Africa players are reported to have said that if Boston was to travel with the team then he would occupy his own room,  separate from the rest of the players. This made him cancel the trip. (Supersport, 2009)

In a different instance, a recent complaint of racism was raised which is said to have occurred during the play offs when St. Helens were entertained by Leeds at Headings. It is Shaun McRae, the coach for St Helens, who filed the complaint claiming that racist remarks were made towards Leeds. Speaking when addressing a press conference, McRae made an announcement that referee John Connolly had made such a statement in his report. He said that they had requested for the remarks to be inserted into the report as racial slur made against one of their players. The reporter says that the player alleged to have made such statements didn’t apologize adequately and therefore the matter was not fully resolved. It is Leeds and the RFL to establish what exactly occurred because there was a need to ensure that racism doesn’t become a normal thing.

Although the national Rugby Team of New Zeeland is renowned for continued success, it has occasionally received claims of racism. We are told that there has been arising cases of controversy in the tours to South Africa on the international stage. The 1981 tour to South Africa was the most famous for this matter. We are told that the tour attracted worldwide criticism since many states did boycott South Africa due to the rampant cases of apartheid. Domestically, there has been witnessed various cases of racial abuse in the Super Rugby Competition. Instances of racism have also been witnessed in club rugby and college rugby.

Racism is a very serious issue infringing the rights of players. Due to such cases of racism and apartheid in South Africa, the New Zealand Rugby Union had a policy of not selecting players who were referred to as Maori, for South African tours prior to 1971. The tours were highly criticized, both internally and externally with the coining of a slogan “No Maori, No Tour” which became so prominent in New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission has recently commended this as the beginning point for campaigns meant to stop such tours. Halt All Racist Tours (HALT), which is a rugby tour group, which is anti-racist in nature, came out strongly to protest against future game events between New Zealand and South Africa. This pressure caused many of the tours to be called off.

According to Jeremy Lin, racism possibly played some role in what he termed as his reaction to his growth towards his fame in New York. He goes ahead to say that there is evidence of anti-Asian racism in basketball, and were it not for that, Jeremy would have played in New York throughout his career. According to GQ Magazine, Lin claimed that today there is a lot of stereotypes and perceptions of Asian- Americans which are out there. The fact that he is an Asian- American causes it to be harder to believe. He boldly says that he is going to play better for much more time, with the intention of wanting to make some people believe that he is an Asian.

Vile racism got high during a basketball game for boys that were held in Pittsburg. This resulted when fans from a school which comprises of almost all- white suburban rushed in the entire court in, wearing banana suits and shouting to their topmost voices, referring their rivals as monkeys playing in African-American dominated school. The fans besieged the Monessen players and started making loud monkey noises, and yelling a racial slur at the Monessen players. Some Monessen parents allege that similar racist shouts were made by the Brentwood, referring the Greyhounds as mere cotton pickers and monkeys. It is told that the Director of Security who was on duty failed to take necessary measures to combat the incidence, but just sat back to watch things go wrong.


The research question that this research proposal seeks to answer is whether racism is still an issue in sports. Out of the great amount of literature review that has been given in preceding subheading, it is clear that there are numerous cases of racism in various types of games all over the world. In football, the situation seems more alarming than the rest of all. The sad part of this discussion is that some high profile officials even don’t agree that racism is a problem in sports. They completely deny it, arguing that there could be one or two cases of such but that does not warrant them to term it a serious challenge.

We have noted that, when the FIFA president Sepp Blatter was asked whether racism was a real problem in the pitch, Blatter denied it in CNN World Sport. He plainly claimed that there is no racism at all. All he said is that there could be some sort of friction between some players but that does not amount to racism. (Supersport, 2010 This statement is so ridiculous since we know very well that football has for long been surrounded by continuous cases of racism.

We have seen Black (African) and Asian players being racially mistreated by their counterparts. Apart from Sepp Blatter, Angel Villa Liona (president of the Spanish FA and UEFA’s executive committee) also echoed similar words. When UEFA took an initiative of fining the Spanish FA following racial abuse of an Italian player by fans from Spain, Dani Alves spoke out openly that is so hard to control racism in Spain. However, Angel Villa Liona emphasized that racism was not a problem. There is the denial by officials that there is perpetration of racial prejudice.

Apart from football, other sports facing racial challenges include rugby, basketball, athletics, and handball among others. In rugby, we meet various cases of racism across the world. New Zealand is among the teams that perform so well in rugby. However, racism has tainted its image. In the early years of the 70s, we are told that Black players were greatly condemned by their counterparts. Asian-American players also received their share of the blow. We are made to understand that that team rarely visited South Africa due to what was termed as alarming cases of racism, especially those days.

In the Super Rugby competition, New Zealand has five teams. The competition is powerfully contested between themselves, South Africa and Australia. Although there has been a significant success in the exercise, racism has plagued off some teams. New Zealand is a diverse nation characterized by wide cultural background and the management of the Super Rugby teams do reflect this. We are told that the issue has nothing to do with the policies and actions of the teams, but rather is a stereotyped behavior perpetrated by the aging supporters of the same. We are told that racial slur is a common disease amongst the aging fans of rugby.

We are told of a certain tour to South Africa that took place in 1981 which was so controversial. There exploded protests all over the nation of New Zealand. Many of these descended into violence and almost divided the nation into two sides that were opposing each other. We are told that there were more than two hundred protests, with about fifteen hundred of them being arrested. The protest was not purely based on rugby, but also on moral values and societal structure. Such protest campaigns did galvanize and strengthen the anti-racist movement of New Zealand.

In the year 2010, a suggestion was issued that the policy of selection of teams followed by the Crusaders Racial Selection Policy was itself enhancing perpetration of racism. It was alleged that the policy of the crusaders advocated for the inclusion of only three non-European players. This accusation was made by Andy Haden, pointing out that this policy allowed the Crusaders to racially discriminate in the sense that they could select various races based on their suitability to various positions. The players and also the Prime Minister rejected those allegations and even now the debate still goes on. Regardless of whether this holds water or not, it has helped point out that not all players are equal in skill and that there is a high chance that racism is still practiced at the decision making the level of clubs.

We have many cases of racism in basketball. It is reported by media from the Pittsburgh Brentwood High School, the basketball competition which takes place annually between Brentwood High, Monessen and Pittsburgh High turned chaotic. This arose when two teams headed to their rooms after the halftime break, three supporters from the Brentwood ran onto the pitch covering themselves with banana suits. These stereotyped fans besieged the players from the Brentwood High and began hurling shouts of words that were purely full of racial sentiments.

They were calling them monkeys! It is astonishing that although the security director was available, he never made any attempts to restore order. A parent from Monessen high was shocked that no one was doing anything to stop the behavior. Calling such names like “cotton pickers and monkeys” to your opponents is a high degree of manifesting racism. A staff writer from Valley Independent whose name is Jeremy Sellew said that Joseph Kozarian, who was charged with the administration of security in Brentwood, was on duty at the game. However, he negligently failed to execute his mandate. It is claimed that the security director was seen seated somewhere at the back and at times he smiled and laughed with the fans.

A number of policies have been put in place to combat racism in sports. These measures have to somehow help reduce incidences. UEFA has strengthened its measures against racism, and increased partnership with other bodies like FIFPro to actively support campaigns meant to banish this vice from football. The governing body for the European football has too partnered with the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. They cooperate to condemn racial discrimination in the continent.

UEFA has allocated significant financial support to the FARE, with both bodies staging events and doing publications in the biggest football matches in Europe. This is meant to advocate a message of no tolerance for all sorts of discrimination and racism. UEFA make use of its premier club competitions on every October to stress its strong stand against racism. Teams are accompanied onto the court by children wearing T-shirts labeled “Unite against Racism.” Captains of the teams are too required to wear armbands indicated “Unite Against Racism.”

Strong penalties are imposed on any player who tries to perpetuate racism. We have seen some players from England bear heavy fines due to racism. Players like John Terry served match bans, in addition to heavy fines.

All these policies and many others have been put in place to address the issue of racism. However, the policies don’t seem to bear many fruits and much is required.

Our research hypothesis is therefore disapproved because we can see that racism is still a problem in sports.


Racism has somehow gone down in English football, but it has not gone away. Out of the literature review that has been conducted and the analysis of the same, it comes out clearly that racism is still a major problem in sports. In football, the problem is more rampant than in other sports. This helps to answer our research question which sought to find out whether racism is still a major problem in sports today. It has been established that racism is still high, with some officials perpetuating it indirectly.

Although some of these top-level officials seem to deny it, research has established that some stereotype fans still perpetuate it. The proposal has established that a number of structures and policies have been put in place to combat racism, including heavy fines and the establishment of bodies like FARE. However, these structures have not performed to the expectation and much is still required.


Reference list

Burdsey, D. (2011). That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore: Racial Microaggressions, Colour-Blind Ideology and the Mitigation of Racism in English Men’s First-Class Cricket, Sociology of Sport Journal, 2011, 28, 261-283, Brighton.

Jarvie, G., & Reid, I. (1997). Race relations, sociology of sport, and the new politics of race and racism. Leisure Studies 16, 211–219.

Jones, J. M. (1997). Prejudice and racism (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Ponterotto, J. G., Utsey, S. O., & Pedersen, P. B. (2006). Preventing prejudice: A guide for

Ridley, C. R. (2005). Overcoming unintentional racism in counseling and therapy: A practitioner’s guide to intentional intervention (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shawn, Utsey, G Joseph, Ponterotto, SP. (2008). Prejudice and Racism, the Year 2008—

Still Going Strong: Research on Reducing Prejudice With Recommended Methodological    Advances, Virginia.



















Time schedule



What How/when
Abstract Last thing to do before proofreading

2nd April 2013


Introduction Why I have done the study, a broad outline of the subject, research question, aims, and hypothesis.


Researching at least four or more articles  relating to my topic area ready for the 4th December proposal deadline


Literature review Review the topic area and what has been written about it. Be critical of the studies including their strengths and  limitations


Use Discovery and Google Scholar to gather Journal articles. Read 2 per week by Christmas. Write up by 24th January 2013


Analysis Analysis of all the info, evidence and question and disprove the hypothesis. Create a better understanding of the research found. Use evidence required and begin the analysis by Jan 29th and to be achieved March 7th.
Conclusion Summary of all the findings The conclusion to be achieved by 1st April.








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