Negocios

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Emancipating sports of racism

As the coun­try com­mem­o­rates 184 years of Eman­ci­pa­tion, it is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to rein­vig­o­rate the in­sti­tu­tion of sport through its stake­hold­ers—ad­min­is­tra­tors, ath­letes, coach­es, spon­sors etc—to act time­ly and pur­po­sive­ly in sani­tis­ing all prac­tices of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and racism in sport

As the coun­try com­mem­o­rates 184 years of Eman­ci­pa­tion, it is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to rein­vig­o­rate the in­sti­tu­tion of sport through its stake­hold­ers—ad­min­is­tra­tors, ath­letes, coach­es, spon­sors etc—to act time­ly and pur­po­sive­ly in sani­tis­ing all prac­tices of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and racism in sport.

It is com­mon­place to as­sert that sport pro­vides a pow­er­ful means for char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment through the in­ter­nal­iza­tion of pos­i­tive val­ues and be­liefs.

There­fore, sport is un­ques­tion­ably seen as con­tribut­ing to so­cial co­he­sive­ness, tol­er­ance and mu­tu­al re­spect in so­ci­ety.

How­ev­er, this per­spec­tive may be more utopi­an than a wide­spread re­al­i­ty as sport can be a so­cial site for the per­pet­u­a­tion of dif­fer­ent forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion in­clu­sive of racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

YV3191

The glob­al sport­ing land­scape is filled with in­nu­mer­able ex­am­ples of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and racism.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion Against Racism and In­tol­er­ance (ECRI) pro­vide guide­lines for sport stake­hold­ers.

The guide­lines are premised up­on two ma­jor points:

• [Coun­tries] should en­sure and en­cour­age equal op­por­tu­ni­ties in ac­cess to sport for all, com­bat racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion with­in sport

• [Coun­tries] should build and lead coali­tions against racisms in sport, invit­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, sports fed­er­a­tion and clubs, ath­letes, coach­es, ref­er­ees, sup­port­ers’ group, mi­nor­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tion groups, NGOs and the me­dia

Some of the key rec­om­men­da­tions are:

a) En­act and im­ple­ment an­ti-dis­crim­i­na­tion leg­is­la­tion en­sur­ing ac­cess to sport for, and pe­nal­is­ing racists acts. In ad­di­tion to im­ple­ment­ing leg­is­la­tion, na­tion­al sport­ing bod­ies, clubs, schools and all oth­er in­sti­tu­tions who are re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing sport must do so with one of its ul­ti­mate goals be­ing the pro­mo­tion of in­clu­siv­i­ty re­gard­less of race, eth­nic­i­ty, so­cial class, gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, and na­tion­al­i­ty

b) Build coali­tions against racism in sport

Adopt a na­tion­al frame­work agree­ment, out­lin­ing the tasks and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of each ac­tor

• In­vite sports fed­er­a­tions and sports clubs to take mea­sures to at­tract sup­port­ers of dif­fer­ent mi­nor­i­ty back­grounds to sports events

• Re­mind ath­letes and coach­es to ab­stain from racist be­hav­iour in all cir­cum­stances

• En­cour­age sup­port­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions to adopt sup­port­ers’ char­ters, con­tain­ing an­ti-racism claus­es

• En­cour­age spon­sors and the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try to avoid giv­ing a stereo­typed pic­ture of ath­letes from mi­nor­i­ty back­grounds

• Pro­mote ex­changes of good prac­tices through the cre­ation of a good prac­tice award for com­bat­ing racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in sport

c) Raise aware­ness of racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in sport

• Or­gan­ise an­ti-racism aware­ness rais­ing cam­paigns in sport at all lev­els, in­volv­ing all rel­e­vant ac­tors

• Pro­vide [sup­port] for so­cial, ed­u­ca­tion­al and in­for­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties for NGOs ac­tive in the field of com­bat­ing racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in sport

• En­cour­age the me­dia to re­port on racist in­ci­dents tak­ing place dur­ing sports events and to give pub­lic­i­ty to sanc­tions in­curred by racist of­fend­ers

It is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge that racial acts in sport are not on­ly car­ried out by hooli­gans or fa­nat­i­cal fans but al­so by ath­letes, coach­es, sup­port per­son­nel and by or­di­nary fans.

Com­bat­ing racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion can­not be ad­dressed sole­ly by one-off events such as work­shops or a rou­tine ges­ture (de­spite its good in­ten­tion) as tak­ing the knee be­fore the start of an event

What is re­quired is a struc­tured ap­proach tar­get­ing the struc­tur­al pat­tern be­hav­iours that are en­shrined in poli­cies, cul­tur­al val­ues and prac­tices that nor­mal­izes all forms of racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion while at the same time de­valu­ing the neg­a­tive im­pact of such acts

Ac­cord­ing to Nel­son Man­dela “It [sport] has the pow­er to in­spire. It has the pow­er to unite peo­ple in a way that lit­tle else does. Sport can cre­ate hope where once there was on­ly de­spair.

“It is more pow­er­ful than gov­ern­ment in break­ing down racial bar­ri­ers.”