Shut Up and Dribble: Time for FIFA to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Zero Tolerance for Racist Incidents Is the Only Way Forward

  • Moussa Marega has proven to be one of Portugal’s most effective forwards, but that hasn’t stopped him from being subjeted to racial abuse. Graphic Joey Bruce

This weekend, FC Porto was playing away to Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s first division.

Around the seventieth minute-mark, monkey chants began to rain down from the home crowd, directed at one of the black Porto players: forward Moussa Marega.

Disgusted with the abuse, Marega tried to get himself substituted, all while showing the crowd the middle finger. To make matters worse, he was shown a yellow card for the outburst.

Players and coaches on both teams also did everything in their power to convince him to keep on playing. Trying to force Marega to keep on playing despite being racially abused just shows were everyone’s collective priorities are and I am sick and fucking tired of this shit.

It’s blatantly clear that most of the clubs, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) don’t see the epidemic of racism in world football as anything more than a PR opportunity.

If the three aforementioned parties actually cared about solving this issue, one simple step could be taken: absolute zero tolerance for any form of racism—be it in the stands or from the club.

If that happens? No warning. No slap on the wrists. No minor fine with a reading of the Riot Act. No more finding some of the perpetrators and banning them for life, while pretending this isn’t more than a publicity stunt.

No more half-measures that do absolutely nothing.

First offence should mean a team is forced to play their next game in an empty stadium. Millions in concessions and ticket sales lost might cause clubs to take more drastic action to stamp out racist behaviour.

Second offence? Lengthen the ban.

Keep being racist? Keep losing out on home games.

At the end of the day, the incentive to own a club is a purely financial one. Yes, most owners are fans of the game too, but they expect a return on their investment. If you keep hitting their wallets, then you can be sure that—much like any CEO of any company—they will move heaven and earth to keep their money.

It’s gotten to the point where I roll my eyes every time I see a “say no to racism“ banner or armband in a soccer game, just because I know how wildly hypocritical that can be at times.

Are some clubs making genuine efforts to improve things? Most definitely, but when the global governing body of a sport refuses to take decisive action against something that harms the mental health of their players, it’s impossible to be optimistic about the future of the sport.

Every time one of these horrid incidents happens and there isn’t a large-scale, sweeping punishment for whoever is responsible, the sport loses countless potential athletes who don’t want to have to go through that kind of abuse just to have some fun.

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