Walking away from the racists will hand them the power
The issue of racism has been the main talking point in football for the past twelve months now, and it doesn’t seem as though it will go away any time soon. The Dutch national squad were training in Poland in preparation for their opening group game against Denmark when there were monkey chants directed at the black players coming from the crowd. The abuse seemed to get worse until the Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel moved his team over to the other side of the pitch to avoid the culprits. This particular incident has now been acknowledged by UEFA and on this occasion they have decided not to take any action.
Michel Platini has already stated that the referees will be able to bring the game to a halt if racist chanting is heard during play, whilst Mario Balotelli has vowed to walk straight down the tunnel if he is targeted by racists during the tournament. No one would blame the Manchester City striker for wanting to exit the pitch if he is the victim of such abuse, but with social issues as serious as this, there are better ways of confronting and tackling the problems, as walking away would give racists the power that they want.
If Balotelli does remove himself from the field of play then the racists have won, they now have what they want. The whole reason they dish out the abuse is because they don’t like the colour of someone’s skin or the culture that they live in therefore for that player to leave the field would hand the culprits power in this scenario and the repercussions could be awful both socially and in sports. The BBC recently aired a programme which highlighted the problem in Poland and Ukraine and the scenes were disturbing to say the least. There was a set of Indian students targeted inside the stadium just for being in attendance, but what was more disturbing than that was the failure by the security forces inside the stadium to deal with the violence. This should be the initial way to tackle the problem, from the terraces. If people can get away with something, they will try again and push the boundaries even further and what was seen in this documentary was the police doing absolutely nothing about removing these racists from the premises. This was the same issue that cropped up when some of the Dutch squad were abused, why were they allowed to continue making these monkey chants towards the Netherlands players?
UEFA simply have to do more to prevent the problem in the first instance and then dish out massive consequences if the problem reoccurs in the future. Educational programmes would be a good idea for younger people who have an interest in sports. Not only should this kind of programme be introduced in the coaching modules, but also in schools and colleges around Europe. Maybe then people will have a greater understanding of different cultures and the way in which other people live because at the end of the day racism just shows a lack of education and knowledge about the multicultural world we live in.
It will not be easy to stamp out racism for good because of how far down the line we are with the problem. What UEFA can do now is prepare for the future and make sure that there are procedures in place to tackle the problem as we speak. Confronting the issue is the best way of eradicating it and this is where stopping matches and walking away will hand the racists with power. If the security forces are drilled on how to remove the abusers and educational programmes are put in place for the future, then we can then look to a positive future where fans can sit in the stadium together without the fear of abuse and players can perform to the best of their ability without the same concerns.