Following the appalling racist incidents during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro and experienced by Juventus' Moise Kean in Cagliari, it is clear that there is a growing sense of anger from players regarding insufficient sanctions.
Danny Rose has said he “can’t wait to see the back of football” due to the continual racism players are facing within the game. We have spoken to Danny directly, both after the Montenegro game and again today, to ensure he is aware that we are on his side and here to support him as a union and as fellow professionals. To see a senior England international so disheartened with his profession is a shocking indictment of the current experience of many players worldwide.
The PFA – together with stakeholders in England - have worked hard to address racism within football over the past 20 years. While considerable achievements have been made domestically, more must be done - both internationally and at home.
There has been much discussion about the rise in racist incidents during matches. Now, what our members need and deserve is definitive action. Therefore, we are calling on Football Associations globally, UEFA and FIFA to do more to address racism during matches.
The PFA is calling for:
1. Instant Action
Currently, our players are bearing the weight of these incidents, and while we commend the likes of Rose and Sterling for speaking so candidly, protocols must be enforced to protect all players from such experiences.
UEFA has a three-step process for halting matches. This relies on a player reporting an incident, the referee responding to the player’s report and then making a judgement call on the magnitude and intensity of the provocation - we want to see this protocol enforced consistently.
2. Imposing Sanctions
The strongest possible sanctions must now be imposed on any team whose fans engage in racist behaviour from the stands. Fines are not proving effective, and therefore more strident punishments must be given - stadium bans and sporting sanctions are the minimum punishments required.
PFA Deputy Chief Executive, Bobby Barnes, via his role with international players’ body FIFPro, is also speaking directly with UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin. We know Čeferin has recently exerted direct influence on domestic associations to ensure stronger responses to specific racist incidents. We will be lobbying for stricter sanctions to be applied consistently across all of Europe.
3. Member Support
We understand that many members feel frustrated that the current application of deterrents are not sufficient, and feel that not enough is being done by the sanctioning bodies to address the issue.
We want players to know that their well-being is a priority. Football is a career; no one should be expected to ‘put up’ with racist abuse at work. Ultimately, if players experience racism during a match and collectively teammates feel the most appropriate action is to leave the pitch, we would understand. However, to do this, is to absolve the responsibility from footballing authorities, match officials and stadium safety officers who are tasked with providing a safe working environment for players.
We urge everyone involved in the game to take any reports of racism seriously, and we encourage managers and teammates – regardless of ethnicity – to join together in solidarity with players who are facing racist abuse.