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.
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.”