40% of professional footballers regularly notice racism, discrimination
Four in ten professional football players in the Netherlands say that racism and discrimination regularly occur in professional football. 14 percent of all professional players, and 25 percent of players from an ethnic minority, experienced racism and discrimination themselves, the Mulier Institute found in a survey of 118 professionals from the Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie, NU.nl reports.
A quarter of players said that teammates sometimes make jokes or negative comments about skin color, origin or religion. Some teammates find this okay, others don't. A fifth said that there is a taboo about discussing prejudices and stereotypes in professional football. 31 percent of players from a minority said this. These players also said it was important for there to be more people of color among coaches and managers.
When asked about the biggest obstacles to tackling racism in professional football, the professional players most often mentioned negative reactions from supporters, public opinion, and societal norms and traditions. The players consider sanctions and positive attention from football journalism as effective tools to combat racism and discrimination. Dutch football association KNVB and the clubs must also play a big role in this.
The KNVB responded to the survey with a statement saying that "anyone who discriminates and excludes others does not belong in football". The association said it already implemented new and tighter measures against this problem in the past 18 months, including doubling the length of stadium bans for racist supporters to 10 years. And players guilty of racism can be suspended for between five and ten matches.
"In addition to penalties, we are also working hard on awareness, cooperation, and signalling," the KNVB said. "We also have personal conversations with professional football players to explain to them what we are doing in this area and to ask them about their personal experiences and ideas. The line is clear: discrimination and exclusion will not be tolerated in any form."