All you hear is the thud of the ball and the screams from the bench, as the sound bounces aggressively in between the rows of empty chairs in the stadium before trickling out through the roof. Football is back! Fun!
Football, although just a sport, is able to hold a multitude of things, but it all leads back to a sense of community. Football is nothing without community – as seen so starkly illustrated by these empty stands, the lack of atmosphere and ambience that has crept into the quality of the game. Football, in its place as the most popular sport in the world, has a unique point of impact, with its ability to touch the heart of millions all over the world, and its values are able to spread far and wide.
Therefore it’s imperative that we do not drop the ball on important issues like racism, but keep open to work on it. It is time that we all take a long hard look at ourselves, and our football, and do not shy away from what we might see. We need to ask more of ourselves, and our football. As lovers of the beautiful game, we need to see the ways in which football has been, and still are, complicit and enable systemic oppression to be upheld. We need to open our minds to the possibility that more can be done (it simply hasn’t been because that’s what suits the people in power), and that it’s on us to call them out on that and actually demand more, demand better – at the same time as we also put the effort in to do that with ourselves too. Black people are underrepresented in decision making roles as well as in media roles and coaching roles within the sports world, and this is not news to anyone, not really. It’s always been like this. It’s just been easier not to acknowledge it as the huge issue it is. People who say that “politics has no place in football”, ask yourselves – what kind of privileged position am I coming from in order to be able to make such a statement? If you don’t believe that politics belong in football, it’s probably because your existence in that space has never been questioned.
Football, and its community, has a chance to do things differently. It’s about time that we take that chance, starting with our own. If you need some inspiration, just look at Marcus Rashford who used his platform to singlehandedly take on the government and their decision to not supply school children with food vouchers during the summer, forcing them to make a u-turn on their decision (again, which just shows us that they can do it, they have just chosen not to).
The SEASON team have put together an excellent guide to being anti-racist and supporting the black community in football. Simply click through to the guide here.