A football star left the pitch in tears after being subjected to shocking racist abuse from the terraces. The incident took place in Serbia, but it can be argued that Britain would see similar scenes if it was not for a lack of diversity in one area.

Partizan Belgrade midfielder Everton Luiz, 28, was subjected to monkey chants throughout the game, they eventually reduced him to tears.

The racist incident took place in Sunday’s Belgrade derby against local rivals Rad Beograd. Supporters from Vile unveiled a banner insulting Brazilian Luiz before the end of the match, which Partizan won 1-0.

At the final whistle, Luiz made a one-fingered gesture in the direction of the Rad fans, who had to be restrained by the police.

Following the match, Luiz said:

“I’ve been suffering racist abuse during the entire 90 minutes and also was upset by the home players, who supported that. They were all attacking me.

“I want to forget this as soon as possible. I love Serbia and the people here, that is why I cried.

“But please say no to racism!”

The FA has supposedly wholeheartedly embraced the Kick It Out movement; this has led to far less incidents of racism in football. However, Black players much like Black British people are far more visible in Britain and British football than in other leagues around Europe. Yet, there is still one place in football where Black people lack inclusion.

There has not been a Black referee in top flight football since 2009. This is despite a report in 2012 that  said that by the 2015/16 season

“the FA in conjunction with county FAs will ensure that 10% of the referee workforce is from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, which is reflective of national demographics”.

Of the current crop of Premier League refs since this report to date, all 17 are white and English. The last high-profile black referee was Uriah Rennie, 53, who was forced to quit in 2009 due to injury.

A Picture of a Black referee from TheFA website

Why would more Black referees reveal the racism left in football?

In 2005, former African Footballer Of The Year, Cameroon and Barcelona Player, Samuel Eto’o when asked about the possibility of a Black referee taking charge of a Primera Liga Game (Spanish football):

 “What? A referee here like the Black referees in England? If one arrived here, then they would kill him. Referees are all hated and seen in a bad light and if on top of this they were Black, then you can guess what would happen.”

Anyone who has been to a football game or followed football, will know that the referee is routinely subjected to the anger and abuse of fans. A referee may even be subjected to abuse from players and managers. Thus, in the many heated moments of referee decision questioning, anger and verbal condemnation, people’s latent unconscious or conscious racial prejudices may come to boil and surface.

As shown in:

‘In February 2015, Chelsea fans were involved in an incident in which they pushed a black passenger off a Métro carriage at Richelieu-Drouot station in Paris before a Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain.[156] The supporters were heard chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.’

With that said, racism in football in Britain is not as bad as it is in Europe. However, in the lower Football Leagues with their limited police presence and lower stewarding numbers, racism is still a problem to be tackled. Just as it is a problem that has surfaced in many other sports.

The question of diversity in sports and employment is not about giving an under qualified person a job over someone else simply based on their race. It is about finding an equally qualified person and giving them a chance where opportunities i.e. chances have been hard to come by. Often this discussion is about the lack of Black managers in football. However, The FA has far more control of the lack of black football officials than how Football clubs choose the coaches and managers of their teams.

In truth, I could not find any evidence that The FA had met its own diversity quota- 10% of Premiership referees would only 1/2 Black referees. Surely this could and should have been achieved in the last 5 years?


Antoine Allen
@AntoineSpeakson Tweet me to carry on the discussion or comment below.
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