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Sports and racism

If our mentality is not going to change, racism is not going anywhere, unfortunately.
Updated 31 Aug, 2021 01:25am

It has been a week for us to look back and reflect upon the UEFA EUROS 2020, a tournament that will go down in history for its amazing goals and historic matches. My personal favourite game was the intense bout between Switzerland and France in the round of 16, in which Switzerland produced the most unlikely of comebacks as they went on to defeat France on penalties.

However, the final between England and Italy may be remembered for all the wrong reasons. It was a match which went onto penalties and saw three black players miss their penalties, which ultimately caused England to lose the final. Bukayo Saka, a 19-year-old boy from West London, was given the duty of taking the deciding penalty, which he missed. I mean how crazy does it sound that a teenager was put in such a high-pressure situation.

All three of the players who missed their penalties received endless racist messages on their social media accounts. Marcus Rashford, a player who also missed, had his mural in Manchester vandalised by racists, despite being a national hero.

These recent events showed us exactly how big of an issue racism is, not only in sports, but in life. Mesut Ozil, an ex-German international player, put it perfectly “Every time we win, I am a German, but every time we lose, I am an immigrant”.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, claims to have spoken with the representatives of these social media apps and warned them that they will face fines amounting to 10 per cent of their global revenue if they fail to remove racism from their platforms. Although such measures can be taken to make a change, what really needs to change is our mentality. If our mentality is not going to change, racism is not going anywhere, unfortunately. Instead of throwing so much hate at these youngsters, we need to applaud them for their bravery of holding the weight of their country on their shoulders and stepping up to take the penalty kicks.

Let us face the facts, sports such as football are meant to emulate positive energy amongst the communities. They are a source of entertainment, especially during challenging times such as that of Covid-19. Then why do we see such tournaments end with hate and violence?

Ultimately, everything goes back down to our mentality. We cannot point fingers at specific countries for this, but instead at those individuals with a sick mentality, who are at the root of causing this hatred. It should be our collective responsibility to counsel, contain, isolate and make them realise the damage they are causing to humanity.