FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, has long had issues with racial abuse. Fans of some clubs, some more notable than others, have a history of racially harassing opposing players. Last month, fans of Hellas Verona F.C. directed discriminatory chants at Juventus’s Blaise Matuidi. In addition, renowned players like Chelsea’s John Terry have directed racial slurs in the direction of opposing minority players during matches. In an attempt to prevent this kind of behavior, FIFA has imposed significant penalties and suspensions, but racial problems have persisted throughout the association. Even as we are in 2018, these kinds of issues have been reported yet again.
West Ham United, one of the more prominent clubs in the English Premier League, fired its Director of Recruitment and Transfer Chief, Tony Henry, on February 2nd, 2018 for racial discrimination. It has been reported that on January 27th, 2018, Tony Henry sent an email to another West Ham United official and an agent disclosing that the club was looking to restrict the number of African players on its squad. Furthermore, Henry stated that the club was looking to move in this direction because of the “bad attitude” that many African players possess and their tendency to “cause mayhem” when they are unsatisfied with their roles on match day.
FIFA needs to make changes in regards to revamping its equality programs if it wants to eliminate this kind of behavior, and while it should continue to do its best to limit the racial abuse from fans, only so much can be accomplished if problems exist internally. Not only does putting somebody with such a mindset in a position like Henry jeopardize the association’s integrity, but it also compromises the sport. To West Ham United’s credit, the club conducted an investigation after initially suspending Tony Henry and swiftly came to the decision that he be terminated.
In terms of change, the Football Association went ahead and established its version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule roughly a month ago. The Rooney Rule requires each team to interview at least one minority candidate during its search for a head coach. English football has implemented a BAME plan, which aims to achieve the same goals but is potentially even stronger. Within the English division, teams must interview at least one Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidate for managerial positions. This should make a difference within the association and aid in its effort to become a more diverse program.