For twenty-five years, the substantive work of the English football authorities has been bearing fruit, even though incidents have re-emerged in recent years.
The bad news, according to Kevin Miles, is that "Racism is back in British society", after years in which the plague had receded. The good news is that "Football is rather spared": "Today, it is less likely to face racism in stadiums than in the street. "
The man knows what he's talking about. Mr. Miles leads the English Football Fan Association and organized his first protest against racism in football in Newcastle, his heart team, in 1974. Founder of the Show Racism the Red Card association, he has been fighting for decades against discrimination in the world of football. According to him, progress for a quarter of a century is immense.
Sanjay Bhandari, president of Kick It Out, another 25-year-old association against racism in football, confirms: "When I started following my team, Manchester United, over thirty years ago, we did not see many faces like mine in the crowd. In the 1990s, I remember that in the space of four weeks I was called "Paki" (an insult to the Pakistanis) twice at Wembley Stadium, once when I supported England, and once my club. Today, it still happens from time to time, but not at all at the same frequency. "
Insults on social networks
Racism has of course not disappeared from English football. Each season, a hundred arrests take place in the stadiums for racist slurs. Some players are attacked on social networks. Two Manchester United players Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba learned the hard way in August after missing a penalty. The situation seems to have a tendency to deteriorate. "In recent years we have seen a new peak of incidents," Bhandari believes that he recognizes that no reliable statistics measure the phenomenon accurately.
Awareness-raising interventions are regularly organized in schools and amateur clubs. Important work is also done to change football coaching
Still, the time when the English stadiums were shaken by hooligans and far right groups is over. In part, the explanation is to be sought at the highest level of football authorities, who decided to crack down. No more question of turning a blind eye to abuse. A fan who screams racist remarks is immediately excluded from the stadium, as a Bulgarian supporter discovered during a match against England in Wembley in September. There is now an application to download on his phone, which allows to denounce possible racist acts. The police present in the stadium receives live denunciations and can intervene quickly. The stadium ban – sometimes definitive – of some hooligans as well as that of traveling to go to games abroad also helped to limit the excesses.