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The Problem of Racism In Sports: Football And Boxing

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A literature review is the process that critically analyzes various reports, books, writing and journal and find out methodological and theoretical concepts related to a specific topic or subject that has been discussed and on which the papers have projected their views (Hart, 2018). This literature review will discuss about the everyday racism in sports and the methods that can be applied to stop this. Racism in simple words is the belief of a particular race or nation that they are above another race. The racism has always dominated some particular races in every sector of the society. Factors including political systems, social actions, religious views and biological differences have given birth of the belief of racism in people’s mind (Frisby, 2018). For a prolonged period of time racism in sport has affected the madness related to sport. The white-native particular racism has also affected the fans of the sport. According to the reports of HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity) the racial abuse and condemnation is very common in international sports. As per the reports of Hylton (2018) the nations that are mostly affected by the racism in sports are Australia, Europe and America. Hence the sport authorities, fans related to the sport and the people have to take initiatives to reduce racism in sport.

Racism in Football


Footballers from British origin have faced racism for a long period of time which is still happening to some extent. In recent times several incident has questioned the safety of footballers in ground (Caine and Myers, 2017). According to Kuhn (2019) in 1990s the race discrimination was so worst that the Asian and African fans of international football were not allowed to watch matches or meet their favorite footballers. These incidents of discrimination were caused by the fellow fans. As per the reports of Csato (2019) in recent times in a qualifier match of Euro Cup 2020 in Bulgaria the Bulgarian fans shouted harassing racist words to some other outsider fans. Due to this the match was stopped for more than two times and at the end the authority arrested four of them. Goff (2018) states that the incidents related to the racism in sport have hiked to 67% in 2018 that has significantly identified in professional games. Sometimes the referees also face negative approaches by the fans if they take any decision and that is not satisfactory to the supporters of the team. According to the reports of Ross (2018) Joel Mannix projected his view on racism in sports. He recalls an incident and states that the decision he took during the game might be wrong, but the fans should have been more careful about their behavior. Apart from this a player Northern Ireland named Josh Magennis who was great striker has invoked “paper trails” for football tickets as he faced a lot of instances while playing professional games in football. After facing such situations the organizations and authorities related to this sport have created the biggest and new being in 1996 that is known as Show Racism the Red Card Kingett et al,. (2017) states. The Federation International de Football Association regularly conducts campaigns which make the people and the fans aware so that they can “say no to racism” said Singer (2017). Thus FIFA has made commitment to fight against racism. Few years ago FIFA also conducted a campaign where it brought a couple of footballers who have a worldwide fan base and urged them to project their views on racism in sport and how they have experienced it in ground while playing games at a professional level. However racism in association football or soccer refers to the abuse of player because of their nationality, body structure, skin color or ethnicity. According to Breen, (2017) sometimes players are also been abused because of their association with football clubs and other players. There are several incidents where a player was criticized or abused by their own supporters who belong to the same country. As per the study of Cleland (2015) the study of racism in association football is much popular in Europe and Russia. Nonetheless the incidents of racism in sports are quite natural in almost every country in the world. In order to reduce the racist incidents in international football matches FIFA announced new measures that will fight against the racism in sport. Last year in October 2018 Antonio Rudiger who became the victim of racism in an international match urged the global authority of football FIFA to look after their rules and regulation carefully. Therefore in 2019 the president of UEFA (Union of European Football Association) Aleksander Ceferin urged the referees to stop the game if they any racist chants to the players or other fans. On the other hand FIFA president Gianni Infantino has projected ‘harsh sanctions’ in order to deal with racism in sport said Mohammad (2018).

Impact of Racism in Football and its Example

Racism is one of the most vulnerable issues that are widely affecting the society. Spaaji, (2019) said that the entrance of racism in sports has therefore ruined the sports culture and discouraged the players who are associated with the sport. Some of the football players believe that the sports associations and leagues are constantly making the situations worst when they are dealing with the problem Weinberg and Gould, (2018) said. Racism in football has created a significant impact on the UK’s sport environment. UK’s Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the FSA (Football Supporters Association) have taken initiative to stop racism in sport in UK Nathan, (2016) stated. UK’s Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) has also helped them to reduce the incidents related to racism in sport and football. The primary concern of the organization is to encourage the fans that belong to the minority part. Premier League in 2019 launched a new initiative which is known as ‘no room for racism’. The successful projection of this new idea was seen in the matches that were played in between 19th to 27th of October, 2019 Lee Ludvigsen, (2019) stated. ‘The first black professional player from Ghana named Arthur Wharton played as a goalkeeper in Darlington. But reports including Nayak, (2016) and Jarvie, (2017) state that Andrew Watson a Scottish newcomer footballer and played for England footballer faced racial chants for several times. The list therefore includes the name of Hong Y Soo and Walter Tull who are non-white footballers and played for England. All four of them were non-English footballers who played professional games for England said Cleland and Cashmore, (2016). One of the most renowned football clubs, Everton had a centre-forward player whose name was Dixie Dean. A report of Eitzen, (2016) states that Dixie Dean faced a racist chant when as soon as he left the ground and was going towards the dressing room. When Dean heard the word he repeatedly punched the person and the football authority had taken no strong actions against. A police officer who was the eye witness of that incident later told that person that he had received what he deserved Eitzen (2016) said. The flexibility in the football authority of England is very therefore. They know what is wrong and how the people should be aware of it. Another report of () states that one of the most popular player Luis Suarez who was the player of Liverpool then was accused because of abusing Patrice Evra, playing for Manchester United, because of his skin colour Gardiner, (2015) said. This incident took place on 15th October and on December 20 FIFA charged a penalty of £ 40,000 and banned him for 8 international matches Gardiner, (2015) said. As per the study of Galeno, (2018) Suarez tried his best to defend himself but football association did not listen to him at all. But this incident also created a bad impact on the international football. Just after this incident of Suarez his mates from Liverpool wore a t-shirt to support him. Jamie Carragher the English player who played for Liverpool too apologized for this incident. There are two other incidents that took place in the same year. On 23rd October a match was being played by QPR (Queens Park Rangers) and Chelsea. During the match QRP’s player Anton Ferdinand abused the captain of Chelsea by uttering some racist chants that included verbal abuse too. Soon after the incident the Metropolitan Police accused him and a formal investigation was alleged against him. This year in February Two of the Burnley fans were alleged because of using strong words against Gaetan Bong who plays for Brighton. They also used offensive words against the fans of the clubs. Therefore strong actions were taken against them. Just after this incident Phillip Billing faced some racial abuse on social media and this was reported to police. According to the reports of Nitsch, (2019) in July 2019 the racial abuse in football has hiked by 43% within the 2018-2019 football session. After that month in August Chelsea banned one of its fans who abused Raheem Sterling. Some other footballer including Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Tommy Abraham and Marcus Rashford have faced several incidents of racism while playing games at international and professional level said Farrington et al,. (2017).

Footballers Responses to Racism in Sports

Football is plays by millions and there are so many individuals who are being accused every day. Some of these incidents appear in news and some are not (Simon, 2018). There are a number of footballers who have faced racism at least once in his or her life. Although the football associations and other organization but the aggressive mentality of the fan and the players has risen the racist activities and this is still increasing. According the reports of Ansell, (2016) British player Dominic Calvert-Lewin who plays for Everton has stated in order to fight against racism it is really essential to stand together and combat against it. Lewin also believes that the unity in players and the fans will be helpful to erase racism from sport. Lewin also added that racism discourages the taste of game (Burdsey, 2017). According to Lewin it is not tough at all to fight against racism. Another footballer whose name is Alex Kiwomya has also projected his views on racism in sports. Alexander Kiwomya is also an English player who is against racism in sport (Doidge, 2015). Kiwomya has said that the racist elements that are frequently used by the football fans and sometimes by the opponent players actually affect the players and that creates a negative impact on the player’s mind. Not only men footballers but female footballers have also accused racism as the harmful element in sports. Gabrielle George is one of most popular female footballers in England. In a widely accessed social media platform called twitter George told that while playing the qualifying match of EuroCup 2020 the female football team of UK faced tremendous racist chanting in the ground. This shows how the hike in racism in sport is affecting the mentality of players. Therefore the people should be more careful about their and have to assure the players that they will not receive any unchecked word from the gallery. Fans and players have to be careful regarding their behavior and support the anti-racism campaigns held by various organizations to reduce the number of incidents related to racism in sports. Also the individual who support racism must be punished Farquharson et al,. (2019) stated.

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Racism in Boxing

Boxing and Racism – A Brief History

Boxing is another popular game that has a worldwide fan base. While talking about racism in sports how one can keep boxing aside? As per the reports of Mondragón, (2018) retired world heavyweight boxing champion named Tyson Fury sated that when he was an ammeter in earlier life he faced a lot of criticism and racist chants. Therefore race and racism has always been the central idea of promotional campaign in boxing fights. From the very first of boxing era maximum athletes have represented their adapted nations or so called natives in the competition. Competition therefore provoked the ‘race’. Till the 20th century it was the nations with a large population used to organize sports competition. This nation mainly included Australia and United States of America. These two nations were widely popular in organizing boxing competitions (Gold and Gold, 2016). Irish boxer Tommy Burns was the world champion in heavyweight boxing at that time. But soon after that when that when Jack Johnson participated in boxing and won the crown of heavy weight boxing championship. According to Martin, (2015) the wining of Jack Johnson took the racism in boxing to another level. It was completely unbelievable for some people that an African American player had taken the crown from a white person. After that particular incident Jack Johnson faced many English men inside the ring. This happened because of his enormous talent and ostentations personality. Therefore he not only highlighted the black superiority but also sustained his place in the world. Reports of Woodward, (2015) and Colón, (2018) state that in spite of such fights Jack never had intimidated with any white men. However Johnson is the most popular black fighters who fought against white-men. Nonetheless after this incident USA forbade many of the black boxers to perform or fight against the white competitors inside the ring Teresa (2017) said. The winning of Johnson somehow created a fearing approach in the peoples’ mind. In the last decade a man named George Dixon became the first ever black boxer by winning the trophy of championship in ant-weight boxing fight Winders, (2016) stated. The origin of Dixon was Halifax, Nova Scotia and he was also the first Canadian boxer who fought against the English boxer Nunc Wallace and knocked him down in London and became the bantamweight boxing champion. He had a height of on 5 feet and 3 inches therefore he was called as ‘little chocolate’. Now it is quite obvious that his height was not only the reason behind his nickname. The term chocolate actually referred to the skin color of his body (Davey, 2018). In earlier days racism was very natural in boxing and this happened because of the government policies, pseudoscience and philosophy of the nation. But the winning of Jack Johnson as defined by the reports and promoters of American boxing saw the winning of black against white. Another significant example is Muhammad Ali who is probably the most famous boxer in the history of boxing so far. Ali fought almost 61 matches and won 56 out of them. Although Ali was born in USA still he faced a lot of criticism and racist chants because of his body color. He also faced criticism because of his religion Myers, (2016) stated.

Reduction of Racial Epithets

However, in recent timers the racial epithets in UK have become significantly lower in professional boxing. UK has played a significant role in reducing the incidents of racism in boxing. The ‘KO Racism’ campaign in UK has made a remarkable effect on this. Back, (2017) stated that the KO Racism campaign is mainly a social media campaign or awareness workshop which will encourage the people to watch boxing matches and not to comment on someone’s skin color. This campaign has generated by Limehouse Boxing Academy. The co founder of this academy has stated that they have achieved a good response from the students. Therefore it is possible to make people aware of the bad impact of racism on the society and it has to be reduced. According to Jump, (2015) UK has always been a supportive place in boxing. Apart from that the government of UK with the help of some organization who are fighting against racism in recent times has set up some new rules and regulations to reduce the chances of racist incident in UK. According to the government of UK people who support the racist acts will be strictly punished and racist acts are against the law. There are a number of organizations that are fighting against the racism in sports Kivel (2017) stated. Therefore it can be expected that with the help of several rules and regulation it will be easier to reduce the racist activities in sports especially in boxing.

Responses of Athletes

There are several boxers who have disclosed their thoughts related to the racist activities in boxing. Charlie Edward is one of them. Charlie Edward is a professional boxer originated from England. While talking about racism Edward stated that in case of sports racism should not be a big issue. Sometimes racist chants provoke the athletes and therefore they can harm the opponent physical (Edwards, 2017). Therefore the athletes should be careful and calm regarding their attitude. Also the fans and audience of the game have to maintain the discipline during the game. Anthony Tomlison another renowned boxer in UK has also criticized racism (Reeves et al,. 2015). He said that the racism in game actually polarizes the audience and therefore they become aggressive. While concentration on game it game it is really tough for an athlete to focus if such racist chants are shouted. Ryan Rhodes was also a remarkable boxer who has retired recently. Rhodes is strictly against of racism and has criticized it for several times. Unfortunately, during and boxing game event a player faced a racial abuse shouted by an audience (Moore, 2017). As Rhodes was the host of that show he criticized that incident and apologized to all. Not only the players but there are several individual who love sport and hate the presence of racism in sports.


To draw conclusion on this literature review related to racism in sport it can be stated that racism creates a negative impact on the mind of players and the audience. This work has discussed about several issues related to the racism in sport. At first it has discussed about the racism and its effect on football. It has depicted some of the renowned footballers who faced racism and fought against it. It has also discussed about footballers views on racism and its effect on the game. This followed the process how the incidents of racism can be reduced if the audience and the players fight against it. The main objective to stop racism in sports is to create a friendly and familial atmosphere among the viewers of the match. In the next part the work has discussed about the history of racism in boxing. It has also described how boxing is disrupted by the racial activities of some individual who have anger on a specific race. It has picked up examples that show how renowned boxers faced criticism in their life. It has also discussed about the rules and regulations that the government is taking along with some organizations in order to reduce the acts of racism. Lastly it has provided the views of UK boxers on racism and how they dislike it.

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The Problem of Racism In Sports: Football And Boxing. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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