Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - The beautiful game still blemished by racism, report finds

Racism remains a ‘significant problem’ in British football, a parliamentary report has found.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 19 September

The beautiful game still blemished by racism, report finds

Racism remains a ‘significant problem’ in British football, a parliamentary report has found.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee conducted its inquiry in the light of high-profile incidents of racist abuse both on and off the pitch last season.

While noting that the atmosphere at football matches has “changed hugely” since the 1970s and 1980s when it was not uncommon to hear monkey chants coming from the stands, the committee said there was room for improvement and urged the Football Association to do more to tackle racism and other discrimination.

John Whittingdale MP, chair of the inquiry, said: "Recent incidents of racist abuse in the UK highlight that there remain significant problems."

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was suspended for eight games and fined £40,000 in December for racially insulting Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

Other high-profile cases include that of former England captain John Terry, who was cleared in court this July of racially abusing Queen Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand. The Chelsea player still faces an FA hearing.

Racial abuse was directed at Newcastle Benfield’s young star Jordan Lartey during a match against Guisborough Town earlier this year. The North Riding FA was criticised for declining to bring charges after the remarks were picked up by a Sky cameraman.

Off the pitch, Sunderland supporter Peter Copeland was given a suspended four-month jail sentence after being found guilty of writing racist comments on Twitter about black players from Newcastle United.

When asked whether football needed to do more to tackle racism, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told the BBC: "Apart from last year, I don't think it's been an issue. I've not seen anything for 20 years…One bad year doesn't cast the game in doubt as far as I'm concerned."

The committee also raised concerns that the rise of homophobic abuse within football had not been addressed. 14 per cent of match attendees questioned reported hearing homophobic abuse – many said such language was often dismissed as “laddish behaviour”.

Mr Whittingdale said: "More needs to be done to increase the diversity of coaches and referees [and] to embed the values of equality and diversity at all levels.

"While the general level of progress in combating racism and racist abuse in the UK should be applauded, there is much more that can and must be done. We believe it is for the FA to take the lead and set the example for everyone to follow."

Questions for discussion

For primary:

  • What is racism? Why is it important that we discourage it in our society?
  • Have you ever been in a position where someone made fun of you for something about yourself that you couldn't change? How did it make you feel?

For secondary:

  • Why is it important that football players should set a good example when it comes to issues like racism and homophobia?
  • Whose responsibility is it to make our society more equal and inclusive?

Related resources

Under the Skin: Identity, Race and Nationality

  • Resource from the Royal Geographical Society to help pupils critically investigate different forms of racism including their own possible racist behaviours, to analyze the different reasons why racism is considered wrong and to look at how effectively the law deals with racism in our community.

Every Child Matters: Make a positive contribution

  • These excellent worksheets have been specifically designed to allow pupils at KS3 a full understanding of what it means to make a positive co More…ntribution to their school and community.

Challenging homophobic language

  • Stonewall's Education Guide on challenging homophobic language provides information and advice for primary and secondary school teachers, including top 10 recommendations.

Football in Citizenship

  • Help your pupils to consider racism, multiculturalism and diversity in sports with these activities.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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