The recent death of George Floyd has sparked outrage over the world. One of the worst sides of human nature was exposed when he was wrongly killed by a police officer in the American city of Minneapolis, Minnesota on 25th May 2020.
Unfortunately, racism has been a major problem throughout the world of football and has been a problem rearing its ugly head during matches from time to time, despite efforts to stop it.
Serie A, the Italian top flight is hugely plagued by racism. Several incidents of racism have taken place in Italy and several players have been victims.
Mario Balotelli was left in tears when he was racially abused by Napoli fans back in 2014. More recently, Romelu Lukaku has been racially abused by Cagliari fans through the use of monkey chants.
Racism has spread to the Iberian peninsula as well, the most notable incident took place in 2014.
Dani Alves, one of the greatest full-backs of the modern generation, got racially abused by the Villarreal supporters. A banana was thrown at him but in great response, Alves picked up the banana and ate it.
A special case of racism is seen among the fans of Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem. When their owner signed two Muslim players, they were forced out of the club by their own fanbase.
Even fans in some of the top European leagues like Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Russia, Israel, and England regularly chant racist slurs and monkey chants throughout the game.
There have been widely reported incidents of football players doing racist things as well.
Back in 2011, Patrice Evra was subject to racial comments by Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker refused to shake Evra's hand as well before a league game.
El Clasico is one of the most heated matches in world football and back in 2010, Sergio Busquets allegedly racially abused Real Madrid's Marcelo by calling him "Mono" which is the Spanish word for Monkey.
Emre Belozoglue racially abused Didier Zokora in 2012 and Zokora took it upon himself to teach Emre a lesson. Zokora and his teammates literally kicked racism out of Emre in the match after the incident had taken place.
The footballing world has tried to combat racism through various campaigns. Uefa has implemented strict rules against racism as well but still, racism has endured.
Anti-racism campaigns in Italy have failed miserably over the years. In 2019, an anti-racism poster used by Seria A featured monkeys in them and this backfired massively in the footballing world. The Artist Simone Fugazzotto tried to defend his poster by saying "we are all monkeys" but safe to say that the images did not help matters.
Italy's Corriere Dello Sport used Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku in their front page with the headline Black Friday in the same year and the Serie A has been widely regarded as the top European league that suffers mostly from racism.
The world speaks
Players worldwide have time and time again taken the responsibility upon themselves to kick racism out of football.
In reaction to the recent death of George Floyd, Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi have celebrated by taking off their jerseys, displaying the words "Justice for George Floyd."
Borussia Mönchengladbach player Marcus Thuram paid his tribute to George Floyd by kneeling on one knee after scoring in a Bundesliga game.
Back in 2014, players worldwide including Neymar, Sergio Aguero and Gerard Pique posted pictures and videos of them eating bananas on social media in solidarity with Dani Alves after the banana throwing incident.
Uefa and other footballing bodies have created several campaigns against racism but to no great effect. Unless all parties involved with football understand the impact of racism and take a harsher stance against it, the problem will persist. When racism is finally kicked out of football, only then it can truly do justice to the moniker, 'The Beautiful Game'.