Football is a beautiful sport and there's no doubting that fact. The drama and the passion of the players are not the only things that put a shine on the lustre of football. It’s the fans too. The fans have always been referred to as a team’s 12th man on the pitch. There have been instances where the crowd has sung in unison, cheering on their team, motivating them despite being two goals down, or three goals even.
Yet, beneath the glossy top coat, that vintage has proven to be a little scratchy. The dark cloud of racism has hung heavy over the sport since way back. Cases of racism can be seen going way back to the 1930s when racist comments were hurled at Everton forward Dixie Dean. 30 years later, West Ham United’s Clyde Best and Ade Coker were subjected to monkey chants and had bananas thrown at them while playing for the Hammers.
More recently, football players of the pedigree of Patrice Evra, Samuel Eto’o, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Romelu Lukaku, Tammy Abraham and countless others have been the victim of racist chants and abuses, both, by their home fans and otherwise. Innumerable movements against racism have been started with the backing of a number of prominent players, to weed out the cases of racism in football. Yet, even as recently as October 2019, we are still in the middle of a racism storm. Here’s a look at the most prominent cases of racism in football’s recent history –
Brilliant goal by @sterling7 - no sweeter way to stuff it up these racist Bulgaria fans than for a black England player to destroy their team with his sublime talent.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 14, 2019
The Ghanaian midfielder suffered racial abuse while playing for Italian club Pescara during a 1-0 defeat to Cagliari. Muntari reported the racial abuse to the referee, but, surprisingly, Muntari was booked for showing dissent by the referee and promptly abandoned the pitch in protest.
The Brazilian right-back was the victim of racist abuse during Barcelona’s dramatic 3-2 win over Villarreal. A banana was thrown at Dani Alves, as he stepped up to take a corner for the Blaugrana. Alves responded by picking up the banana and eating it. His response to the incident sparked off a movement where other players posted a picture of themselves eating a banana on social media.
The controversial Italian was subjected to racial abuse while playing for AC Milan against AS Roma at the San Siro. Monkey chants were the weapon of choice for the evening, as Balotelli responded to the racism by putting a finger to his lips.
Absolutely disgusted to have witnessed the behaviour of some of the crowd tonight but so proud of every single one of our players and staff. We stand together. Thanks to all of our travelling fans for your support 🦁🦁🦁 pic.twitter.com/e8pchzO6tT— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) October 14, 2019
Arsenal’s Gabon international was enjoying a prolific start to the season, when a banana skin was thrown at him during the North London Derby in December 2019. The speedy striker was left unfazed by the incident, as Arsenal emerged 4-2 winners in the game.
Sterling has become the face of the fight against racism in recent times. The England international was the subject of racial abuse multiple times while playing for Manchester City and England. Most recently, his England teammate Tyrone Mings was also subjected to racial abuse in Sofia during England’s Euro Qualifier against Bulgaria.