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UEFA and its protocols against racism

Football is played as a sports game all across the world. Resultantly you can find teams from Asia, Africa and Europe. Many top soccer clubs may include players of non-caucasian background. The policies of multiculturalism exist in most European countries today and many states have laws promoting diversity. Currently there have been protocols put in place to stem prejudice by the UEFA and FIFA. But xenophobia and hate still remain a part of European football today, despite the laws and regulations. This article will examine the degree to which discrimination currently permeates European association football. 

Draws | UEFA Champions League |

Racism in football.  

The phenomenon of racism has existed for a long time. Racism is an inherent belief in the superiority of one race over another. The pattern of thinking associated with this conception leads to things such as discrimination and prejudice. The former leads to people being differentiated based on their origins, class or religion. The latter makes individuals from disenfranchised groups receive unfair treatment because of the color of their skin or a different physique. In soccer, racism can target athletes, sport club officials or team supporters. Footballers may be denied membership by a prestigious club, due to their ethnicity or religion. Players can sometimes become a target of attack from the opposing team’s fanbase, with colored athletes being judged far more severely than their caucasian counterparts. Antonio Rüdiger, a black Muslim football player, reportedly has been a victim of racist attacks. The German footballer has spoken out against discrimination in the sport multiple times. There have also been multiple instances of racist attacks in French football. However many of them have taken place in the early 2000s. As soccer is an international sport, measures have been put in place to remove discrimination and prejudice from the game. The removal of racism from the sport will give greater chances for African or Asian footballers to join or manage clubs like Chelsea or Bayern Munich. 

UEFA protocols against racism. 

UEFA is an abbreviation for the Union of European Football Associations. It is the regulatory and administrative body of football in Europe. The organization is a subpart of FIFA, the top governing body of soccer in the world. The global organization has put measures in place to combat racism in the sport, with the last set of measures announced in May 2013. The new rules are set to increase the inclusion of players from diverse cultures into the game. Regulations are also meant to put an end to discrimination and prejudice towards existing minority footballers. Currently the UEFA has programs that allow the referee to halt the sports game or even abandon the match in case of racist behavior. In the latter case, the situation on the field will be examined by the UEFA’s disciplinary body

The European governing organization was well aware of the problem before FIFA took measures against it. Already in 2003, action was taken and guidelines published to tackle racism in association football. Soccer clubs have been advised to monitor and report racist incidents and put measures in place against discrimation. Further, football clubs have been advised to work with their support base to fight the negative stigma around colored athletes. Messages against prejudice were placed on billboards and in advertisements. Clubs were encouraged to support diversity, with athletes promoting tolerance on their t-shirts while competing in a match. Laws were enacted against the far-right in football, with intolerant graffiti erased and far-right supporters banned from attending sports events. Further, action was taken to include more minorities in the fan base. Currently people of color are heavily underrepresented in the soccer club support base, despite their increased inclusion in the teams. 

How well have the protocols worked? 

The protocols have not been as effective as the authorities had desired. Racism in European football is still a serious problem today, with many reporting its rise. According to the anti-discriminatory English soccer group, Kick it Out, attacks based on skin color and xenophobia have increased by an astonishing 32% from the last season. There have been incidents of hate in Bulgarian football. UEFA took measures against the attacks, such as fines and stadium closures. Research shows that football can reflect society’s attitudes, with xenophobia and far-right sentiment on the rise in Eastern Europe. Colored players often receive a negative press outlook. Minority athlete’s behavior can come under much closer scrutiny, than the identical behavior of caucasian sportsmen. Should the former purchase a fancy car or an expensive house, it will be immediately reported in the press. The latter’s spending habits, at the same time, mostly remain unnoticed. The journalists are often quick to attack a minority footballer should he miss a goal. But the same media outlets will keep silent when a native player makes the same error. Statistics show that minorities are greatly underrepresented in soccer governing bodies, with only six colored managers present in England’s top 72 football clubs. Further, only 6% of the leadership roles in the English soccer are composed of Black or Asian people; with a mere 4% acting as referees. Minorities are simply not trusted with managing a football club, although they are usually let in as players on the field. 

Hate is a big problem in Italian soccer. Despite Romelu Lukaku scoring a penalty kick for the Italian club Inter Milan in 2019, the player quickly became a subject of racist attacks. Cagliari’s supporters began making monkey noises, insulting the Belgian footballer. Though Romelu made a series of complaints about the incident to the Italian soccer governing association, the footballer received only lukewarm responses. Some of the replies mentioned Italy’s problems with xenophobia as the main culprit of the episode. The opposing Italian club, Cagliari, was not even punished for their supporters behavior by authorities or any internet sports betting pages. There have also been episodes reported of nazi salutes being thrown at football games, along with far-right flags being flown or other modifications of the swastika put on display. 


Even though the UEFA and FIFA have taken measures against prejudice and xenophobia, both in Europe and globally, there still remain significant problems for minority athletes. As the research has shown, colored players can have insults thrown at them and face discrimination from the fanbase or soccer clubs. Further, football professionals from immigrant backgrounds are severely underrepresented in leadership roles in the game. The regulations that the UEFA has put in place did little to alleviate the problem. 

About the author


Trevor 'TrevStone' Uren founded Pro Sports Extra in 2011 at the age of 13. He's hosted a podcast since 14 years old and continues to grow each month! He's currently 24 years old and has interviewed hundreds of professional athletes, business owners, and others who are shining online! Uren has built Pro Sports Extra to over 5M monthly visitors.