After a year of football racism under the spotlight, it appears that governing bodies are beginning to tackle the issue.
The news broke today that cultural lessons will be made available to foreign football players, to help them settle in to life in England. This accompanies the proposal of an ‘anti-discrimination’ clause being introduced in to all contracts. This is also supported by the Government.
The FA is also reported to be looking in to creating a fixed-ban for racist offences, designed to avoid another discrepancy like the difference in bans handed to Suárez and Terry.
This move comes directly from the Luis Suárez racism case, whereby he racially abused Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra. The aftermath of this case left Suárez with an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine. However the Uruguayan forward claimed that his use of the word ‘negro’ was not an offensive term in his culture.
It is this confusion that has prompted officials to address the situation, to avoid any such atrocities happening in the future.
Culture lessons are already on offer for sportspeople new to the United Kingdom. The smallest differences in culture, like shops closing at 5pm, can cause a lot of stress to the players and their families whilst they are trying to settle in to their new life.
Lessons are extremely necessary, if a player cannot successfully communicate with his manager or teammates, he will not be able to play at his best. It is also crucial for foreign players to understand ‘banter’, this has been reported as one of the hardest things to grasp about English culture. There are vast differences between one culture finding something funny, and another finding it highly offensive – Which was the exact issue in the Suárez case.
Players spend about 80% of their time in off the pitch, and away from their clubs. It is during this time that foreign players are having to deal with a whirlwind of cultural anomalies, even things as tedious as parking fines can render them stumped.