Corporate Social Responsibilities in Sports… “Tackling Racism”

 Jerome Fitts

In January 2015, the stories published on racism in futbol has become boring. This piece is in regards to the lack of efforts from those who are involved in the current status of racism in Futbol.  It is becoming apparent that the efforts of  “Zero Tolerance to Racism” isn’t working.  We have to ask ourselves; “Is there a better way of dealing with the problem that is protecting the officials that can control the problem?”

If Gordon Taylor, the president of the Professional Futbol Association in England, has acknowledged the problem, then why haven’t there been more pressure on the sponsors to extend their “(CSR)-Corporate Social Responsibilities”?  There have been advertisements during major matches but a limited and controlled amount of responses from the coaches and players

Compared to 25 years ago, the sport of Futbol is led by the media which is financed by advertisements.

Ukrainian football fans with Nazi flag
Ukrainian football fans with Nazi flag. 2014.       Getty Images.

In the English Premiership, where shared media dominates the global networks, there is minimal coverage on racism in sports. The public knows it’s there, the organizations have always known, and finally, the players within their boundaries are acknowledging it. The difference in today’s game is the effect it has on corporate finance.

The business trading secrets of the game is becoming more restricted yet racism has become more exposed via the new age media platforms. The multi-billion-dollar question is: What are the Corporate Social Responsibilities of the sponsors?

Black Managers in Futbol:

It is a well-known fact that there are no Black Managers in top Futbol Leagues. The major clubs are displaying a lack of confidence in hiring black managers. The hiring of black managers at a prestigious club could mark a change in the opinions of the fans and supports of the club. Futbol is a tradition in the European society which is led by community influences and the aforementioned could be a historical landmark in the sport. Perhaps the advertisement banners from the head of the clubs could display “Change is what’s needed”, or “Trust in our decisions”.

Birminghams Chris Hughton. Courtesy of Getty Images
Birmingham’s Chris Hughton.
Courtesy of Getty Images

FIFA nor the top leagues are making it mandatory for the clubs to interview potential black managers. The published stories of comparing the Rooney Rule, which exists in American football is irrelevant. However, comparing the American Sports system to the rest of the world is not only irresponsible but delusional. The monetary value and sports marketing concepts have become similar, but the ethics within the E.U. are complete.

FIFA Commitment And Activation:

FIFA  creates campaigns to fight against spectator racism. They have sponsors and rely on the cooperation of the sponsors. Without giving to much attention to what more FIFA could do, those campaigns are making little difference. There has to be more pressure on league officials and the futbol clubs.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities)

The sponsors, which employs all nationalities in their global offices,  have little to no choice but to act on the race issue. Sports marketing is entering a new frontier and finance garnered through the sport is measured in billions.

Lebron James attending a Liverpool FC match-
Lebron James attending a Liverpool FC match-

How would Lebron James, who happens to be a minority shareholder in Liverpool FC, react to his fellow brothers being called monkeys during the matches? Surely there has been some information transmitted during the due diligence of the currency exchange. Was the due diligence process based around ignoring race issues in order for Mr James to disburse a check?

Liverpool Futbol Fans. 2014
Liverpool Futbol Fans. 2014

Appointing Black futbol ambassadors would be ideal if there was an effort to build race relations from the governing bodies of futbol.

The Players:

All of the players, who are contracted to play the game as employees are aware of the racism. However, their reactions have limits because the contracts signed does not stipulate unconditional tolerance of spectators reactions or opinions.

The reaction to spectator discrimination is left up to the club officials who are predominantly white. The reality is racial comments have been made for years. The difference today is, those comments are exposed because of the new age media platforms.

It’s hilarious that all sports are dominated by people of colour but tackling spectator racism in sports is a mediocre priority. Why are we tolerating it? Does the money earned soothes the wounds or strengthens the blinds?

The most avoided question is; “Do they care?”

The European Union

“Is racism in sports exempt from the moral responsibilities of the European Union?”

The lack of inability from the governing body of Futbol to control racism in the sport is clear. Because of those inabilities, the E.U. has increased interest in imposing measures to protect the human rights of the players.

German Fans vs Ghana. World Cup 2014. Getty Images
German Fans vs Ghana.
World Cup 2014.
Getty Images

The Article 13 Treaty of Amsterdam, which protects civilians from racial discrimination throughout Europe was suggested, however it has little to no influence over spectators discrimination. Ironically enough the spectators who hurl the abuse are the supporters of the clubs without whom, the clubs would not exist.

To conclude the efforts thus far are duly noted, but those efforts do not represent the results.

End of Part 1.

Part2 (The year 2020!).