Show Racism the Red Card

20 May

England’s 2010 World Cup Squad supports Show Racism the Red Card

Another group, similar to Kick it Out, that has been successful at addressing issues of racism in England is Show Racism the Red Card. They are an anti-racist charity, which was established in January 1996. The aim of the organization is to produce anti-racist educational resources, which harness the high profile of professional footballers to combat racism. They have created anti-racist educational materials that are used in classrooms across England. Furthermore, their Community Education team is available to deliver workshops free of charge to schools and youth groups in North East England. The video below highlights some of the work that Show Racism the Red Card does in primary schools.

I think the video gives a good overview of the work that Show Racism the Red Card does in the classroom. However, when I was watching the video I couldn’t help but notice that all of the students in the class were white. I wonder what these sort of educational programs are like in a multi-racial classroom. It’s difficult to tell whether it would make a black child uncomfortable to talk about racism with his/her white peers or if this program would give them the safe space they need to bring up their experiences with discrimination.

Show Racism the Red Card relies heavily on support from prominent footballers in England and around the world to get their message out to the public. On their website there is a section called Players’ Views where different players express their opinions about the state of racism in football and society and some give recommendations for what they think should be done.

Here is an excerpt from Rio Ferdinand’s profile about his experience with racism in the stands as a kid growing up.

I’ve experienced it in the stands as well – I was only about 13 or 14 and my friend managed to get some tickets and we were sitting there and the game was going on, there were some black players on the away team. The guy in front was shouting loads of racist comments, ‘go back to where you’re from’ and making noises and stuff like that – I was just thinking ‘what’s going on?!’ and there was a policeman standing two yards to my left, so I looked up at him and he just looked right through me and carried on watching the game. I thought to myself he can hear it, I can hear it, so what’s he going to do? I thought this guy’s got to stop now but something happened and he started again. He turned around and said ‘You’re alright mate, it’s just them ones on the pitch’ and I just got up and left. I looked at the policeman and just shook my head and left the ground.

Comments: The story that Ferdinand tells exposes the absurdity and oftentimes contradictory nature of racism in football.

Here is an excerpt from Eto’o’s profile about racism and the 2010 World Cup:

Racism is something created and anything that has been created can be undone. Those of us who are black don’t need to prove anything, but we are made to feel that we always have to prove something.

I hope that in 2010 Africa will give the world a lesson, that it will be the best remembered World Cup ever – for the football and for everything else. What I want most of all is for that World Cup to be the most beautiful game that we have ever seen. It’s our World Cup and we have to work towards that. A lot of people don’t know what Africa is. They know about an Africa with disease and hunger, but they don’t know what Africa really is.

Comments: Eto’o reveals that he feels a need to prove something and perhaps this is why black players have risen to the top ranks of football. To be good is never enough; you have to be great. If you are black and come from a poor background then you have to be great to be able to compete with other young players who had the money to go to private football academies while growing up. You have to constantly prove your worth to coaches and managers once you make it onto a major club. Most of all, you have to be great if you hope to win over the hearts and minds of your own fans, fans who might write you off as just another black face. Part of what makes this situation so difficult is the fact that these individual black athletes bear the burden of representing their entire race. Let’s say for example that a black player makes a mistake and scores an own goal, this confirms the suspicions that some fans had that blacks can’t be trusted, that they are careless or that they are weak. That fan might turn to his neighbor and say something along the lines of, “see, I told you so. They’re a useless bunch.” White players are treated as individuals, while black players are treated as members of a larger group and their actions affect that group. Representing an entire race is quite a daunting task and places an undue amount of pressure on the backs of players like Samuel Eto’o.

Eto’o also reveals the importance of the 2010 World Cup, where (South) Africa must show the world that it is capable of hosting a world class tournament. There have been doubts since South Africa was first announced as the hosts four years ago and much has been done to try to quell those doubts. South Africa has gone through a major re-branding in efforts to shift attention away from the poverty, violence, and disease that are traditionally associated with Africa and to highlight the natural beauty, cultural richness, and modernity of South Africa today. This World Cup can’t be good, it must be great!

To see more Players’ views go to



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