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Racism in Football


Zatman
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After yesterday's booing incident, I decided to wade in here and test the waters. I don't purport to have any sage insights or certainly any authority in the the matter, but I am currently putting the finishing touches on my master's in human rights and will likely be pursuing my doctorate in political science or social change. So I'm both familiar with some of the concepts and ideas being discussed and surprised to see the extent to which it pervades the discourse.

Again, I don't have much to say, but I've found some of the things being discussed here intriguing.

  • First, the conflation of racial justice and Marxism vis-à-vis the Black Lives Matter movement is interesting, and in my opinion unfortunate, as it tends to muddy the waters when what we should be searching for is a certain degree of clarity (while avoiding oversimplification, as much as possible), by tying things into concepts, like equity and oneness, for instance, instead of contentious politics, which carries its own baggage. The political associations — in this case kneeling > BLM > Marxism — behind the act are seemingly how we get from a gesture meant to demonstrate solidarity in the face of social iniquity to a discussion of nineteenth-century European economic theory. I don't recall this kind of reaction to "Kick Racism out of Football" promotions, for instance. Except maybe in Belarus or something where racism is part and parcel of everything.
  • Second, I really wish the Marxism thing could be put to rest. I've spent the better part of the past two years trying to wrap my head around the role of Marxist theory in our current social, political, and academic discourse, and I've come to the conclusion that most people have no idea what it means but nonetheless have strong feelings about it. If we could take a step back from it, it would be great. For my part, I tend to think that true Marxism (if there is such a thing; Marx himself was no more a Marxist than Martin Luther a Lutheran) is an economic-materialist reduction of a larger sociological problem, and while it offers some valuable insights as to why things are the way they are, it offers very little with regard to where we go from here. And it has little to nothing to do with racial justice.
  • Third, and perhaps most importantly, booing is a lousy way to express (what should be) a nuanced opinion. Nowhere in a loud booing noise can be discerned, "I respect your right to advocate for social justice but disagree with the particular manner of expression for reasons A, B, and C." It just doesn't work. For as long as the players and footballing institutions decide to do the kneeling thing — and regardless of whether or not it's entirely perfunctory at this point anyway — what's wrong with being quiet or applauding politely for five seconds and letting things be? I'm an American, in case it isn't obvious, and we have this strange habit of playing our national anthem before every sporting event, whether it's the Super Bowl or a Little League tee-ball tournament — and while I'm not entirely keen on the tradition, I don't yell, "Boo!" the whole time the anthem is mangled by a local aspiring American Idol contestant. I stand up like everyone else and quietly sit down once the fireworks and F-14 flyover are finished. And then on with the tee-ball.
Edited by JamieZ
Edits: Just typos. Always typos.
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3 hours ago, KentVillan said:

Out of interest, why do you reckon there are so few black managers and coaches in English football, despite so many players being black?

I don’t know, are black players doing their coaching badges and then failing to get jobs? What does the data say? 

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3 hours ago, The_Steve said:

Racism is systemic, it is woven into the fabric of the country. It took until 2015 to pay off the debt paid to slave owners to give up their slaves. 


No police officer has been found guilty of deaths in custody. 
 

Just look at the Stephen Lawrence murder and the institutional racism in the Met. 
 

It’s very easy to reduce racism down to unsocial and hateful people, but it hides the realities that black people are marginalised across society - from employment to housing to access to fair healthcare. 
 

I could go on. Point is, taking the new has power still and I fully support Tyrone and other players doing it. To boo that is a stain on this great club. 

I think the question from my point of view is how much of the marginalisation is down to skin colour and how much is down to the opportunities available to people of a particular socio-economic group? Black people are disproportionately represented among the lowest socio-economic groups so have far more limited prospects, but are they any more limited than that of a white person in the same socio-economic group?

I'm not sure they are. For instance, I looked up the stats for deaths in police custody and from 2004 to 2019 there were 249 white deaths in custody and 23 black deaths, which is almost exactly in line with the respective proportion of arrests. But you've quoted it as a specific piece of evidence to show how black people are marginalised, whereas it's really just a failing of the police force that affects different ethnicities equally.

I pick that out because I think a lot of things get ascribed to racism that aren't really racism. Often, they're actually just a result of being poor, and being poor tending to self-perpetuate across generations. And I don't necessarily believe that black people being poor in the first place is itself necessarily a result of racism, as lots of other ethnic minorities don't appear to have had that issue (whether through luck or judgement).

EDIT - just to further explain, I don't disagree with the statement that the police behave in a institutionally racist way (although I don't think the average policeman is racist). I think cause and effect is a bit difficult to distangle, but that's one problem only the black community has to deal with. My post above was talking about general issues outside of law enforcement; for instance I think in a job interview your level of education rather than your skin colour is likely to be a much bigger factor in whether you get the role, etc.

Edited by Panto_Villan
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48 minutes ago, Awol said:

I don’t know, are black players doing their coaching badges and then failing to get jobs? What does the data say? 

The FA answered that one a long time back by demonstrating that very few black coaches were applying for their badges so when you have no input to the machine, you can't expect output.

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54 minutes ago, Awol said:

I don’t know, are black players doing their coaching badges and then failing to get jobs? What does the data say? 

I'm having an unproductive work day, so I decided to do some digging on this.

Bradbury (2014) identified a 'glass ceiling' faced by ethnic minority candidates for management positions across European football.
 

Quote

The overall level of representation of ‘visible’ minorities undertaking coach education in England, France and the Netherlands is around 5-10%. This compares unfavourably with levels of representation within national populations (11-15%) and as professional players (25-40%) in each of these countries. There is also a general drop-off in the numbers of ‘visible’ minorities undertaking coach education across the transition from lower level to higher level awards.

The overall level of representation of ‘visible’ minority coaches across the professional club coaching infrastructure in England, France and the Netherlands is around 2-5%. This figure compares unfavourably with the representation of ‘visible’ minorities within national populations (between 11-15%) and as professional players (between 25-40%) in these countries.

So, while footballers from minority ethnic backgrounds are statistically less likely to do their coaching badges, once qualified they are massively under-represented in positions of employment, relative to their representation on coaching education courses. It seems likely that a lack of representation prevents some players from minority ethnic backgrounds from taking their coaching badges, and the figures would seem to suggest that coaches from such backgrounds find it harder to secure employment once trained.

Delving back ten years, Cashmore and Cleland (2011) found that the number of black managers in the football league had been consistent for a decade - usually fluctuating between 2 and 4 out of a total of 92.
 

Quote

By 2003, at a time when 20 per cent of players were black, there were five black former players in professional management and the same number in coaching positions; they included the French Sudanese Jean Tigana (who had played in the French leagues), and Nottingham-born Keith Alexander who managed several lower league clubs from 1993 until his death in 2010. Regis, who had by then resigned his coaching job to become a football agent, together with Crooks, John Barnes, Paul Elliott, and Luther Blissett all prominent ex-players became part of a group allied to the PFA. The group was concerned with the lack of black managers and coaches at British professional clubs.

Many had the required qualifications and had completed all the necessary coaching courses but were not being given the opportunities to work in professional football.

In that particular study, the authors note that there has been a significant black presence in English football since the 1970s, and that based on the average career-span of a professional footballer, it would be expected that throughout the 1990s and 2000s we should have seen a demographic shift in terms of football mangement. Clearly, that didn't happen - and ten years on from this paper being published, nothing much has changed yet. So again, this would suggest that there are barriers faced by coaches from minority ethnic positions.

Clearly something doesn't add up. Black people are overrepresented as professional football players relative to their proportion of the overall population, but very few make the transition into management, even after attaining their badges. Minority ethnic groups make up between 5 and 10% of all those undertaking coaching programmes (or did in 2014 anyway, I'd argue it's likely that this number is higher now), but occupy only 2-5% of coaching positiosn in the professional game (again, with the caveat that these figures are from 2014).

However, the number of managers in the football league has clearly been static for two decades, and so something clearly doesn't add up here. For whatever reason, it seems that it is more difficult for non-white coaches to make it in the professional game, likely due to a variety of factors. I'd suggest that the existing underrepresentation acts as a barrier, the old-boys networks within football probably doesn't help, and then the rest is likely old fashioned racism and racial stereotyping - some of it I'm sure is the result of unconscious biases, but I think we'd be very naieve to discount racism as a factor.

It's easy for us to laugh at Sol Campbell linking himself to every vacant managers position, but the reality is that the statistics around race and football management in this country make for pretty grim reading, with very little sign of any tangible progress.

Edited by icouldtelltheworld
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35 minutes ago, Panto_Villan said:

I think in a job interview your level of education rather than your skin colour is likely to be a much bigger factor in whether you get the role, etc.

This is a very interesting point, because you may well be right at the point of interview (I have no idea, honestly), but it's fairly well documented that anonymizing CVs leads to much better representation of minority groups at the interview stage; there is a tendency for candidates who would otherwise get an interview to not get one based on their name.

That's not just a race thing either, this is far more anecdotal, but my department started anonymising CVs by default, and while it wasn't a huge sample size (maybe 50 or so interviews while I was there), our number of female applicants making it to interview went from maybe 1 in 10 to about 1 in 3. 

Edited by Davkaus
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59 minutes ago, Awol said:

I don’t know, are black players doing their coaching badges and then failing to get jobs? What does the data say? 

Why are you asking me? You’re the one confidently asserting that there’s no systematic discrimination against them, so surely you already know?

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Just now, Davkaus said:

This is a very interesting point, because you may well be true at the point of interview, but it's fairly well documented that anonymizing CVs leads to much better representation of minority groups at the interview stage; there is a tendency for candidates who would otherwise get an interview to not get one based on their name.

That's not just a race thing either, this is far more anecdotal, but my department started anonymising CVs by default, and while it wasn't a huge sample size (maybe 50 or so interviews while I was there), our number of female applicants making it to interview went from maybe 1 in 10 to about 1 in 3. 

Yeah. That is interesting to hear, and I've read articles in the past saying similar things. It's a very effective way to reduce unconscious bias (well, hopefully it's unconcious) without too much effort at all.

However, that's the stage before the interview, right? I mentioned interview rather than CV stage in my post above because with CVs you're going from name alone. I'd actually say black people have a slight advantage over other ethnic minorities when it comes to names alone, because I think black names are often less distinctive than Asian names / those from the middle-east / the Indian subcontinent and therefore they might suffer less from being filtered out? Just a hunch, no idea if the data backs that up.

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10 minutes ago, Davkaus said:

This is a very interesting point, because you may well be right at the point of interview (I have no idea, honestly), but it's fairly well documented that anonymizing CVs leads to much better representation of minority groups at the interview stage; there is a tendency for candidates who would otherwise get an interview to not get one based on their name.

That's not just a race thing either, this is far more anecdotal, but my department started anonymising CVs by default, and while it wasn't a huge sample size (maybe 50 or so interviews while I was there), our number of female applicants making it to interview went from maybe 1 in 10 to about 1 in 3. 

Anonymized CVs should be a thing everywhere. 

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3 hours ago, Stevo985 said:

Why?

Exactly ..... that is the right question that needs answering !

As is always the case with race and equality issues, we hack away at the leaves rather than dig at the roots of the problems. The reason we do that is it requires less thinking and it is less likely to cause upset but it will achieve nothing good at all which is why the likes of BLM and taking the knee is achieving nothing and will achieve nothing.

We need to be looking at education, aspiration, culture, influence and all those many things that are complex but critical in making skin colour, race, religion, sex, etc totally irrelevant.

We also need to have open discussion no matter how abhorrent we may feel the opinion of others is. Shooting down, bad mouthing and being intolerant of views different to our own is what we should be fighting against. We need to understand where those views originate from and why if we are to influence change for the better.

Tyrone - among many others - needs to be better educated himself on these matters. Rather than shooting down those who don't agree with taking the knee or BLM, he should be inviting those people to share their reasoning so that he can both understand them and - hopefully - influence them for the better. If he really wants to make a difference then stop the "like" mining and be brave enough to listen to and talk with (not to) those who don't see the world as he does.  

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3 hours ago, StefanAVFC said:

Anonymized CVs should be a thing everywhere. 

Exactly. As a starting point. Then it’s removing the interpersonal bias people have during interviews. 

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3 hours ago, StefanAVFC said:

Anonymized CVs should be a thing everywhere. 

The applicant managed/coached Aston Villa between 2016 and 2018, would we like to interview him/her?

I remember I once had an applicant that spelt their name three different ways between the covering letter and the CV.

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4 hours ago, Davkaus said:

This is a very interesting point, because you may well be right at the point of interview (I have no idea, honestly), but it's fairly well documented that anonymizing CVs leads to much better representation of minority groups at the interview stage; there is a tendency for candidates who would otherwise get an interview to not get one based on their name.

That's not just a race thing either, this is far more anecdotal, but my department started anonymising CVs by default, and while it wasn't a huge sample size (maybe 50 or so interviews while I was there), our number of female applicants making it to interview went from maybe 1 in 10 to about 1 in 3. 

There have been studies on this since the 80's, where they send identical CV's to companies with different names, either stereotypical white names or black names, even some done with Muslim names (who seem to fare the worse). The disappointing thing is nothing seems to have changed since the 80's, ie: the white names get 30-50% more callbacks than the others.

Here's an article from the BBC on this phenomenon.

Quote

British citizens from ethnic minority backgrounds have to send, on average, 60% more job applications to get a positive response from employers compared to their white counterparts, according to researchers at Nuffield College's Centre for Social Investigation (CSI).

They sent around 3,200 fake job applications for both manual and non-manual jobs - including chefs, shop assistants, accountants and software engineers - in response to adverts on a popular recruitment site between November 2016 and December 2017.

All of the fictitious candidates were British citizens, or had moved to the UK by the age of six, and had identical CVs, covering letters and years of experience.

The only thing that they changed was the applicant's name, which they based on their ethnic background.

While 24% of white British applicants received a call back from UK employers, only 15% of ethnic minority applicants did.

Compared to White British applicants, people of:

Pakistani heritage had to make 70% more applications
Nigerian and South Asian heritage 80% more applications
Middle Eastern and north African heritage 90% more applications

I always laugh when people say there isn't systemic racism. It doesn't get more systemic than the workforce, nor does it get any more damaging. Literally people's livelihoods and abilities to feed their families we're talking about.

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2 minutes ago, Keyblade said:

There have been studies on this since the 80's, where they send identical CV's to companies with different names, either stereotypical white names or black names, even some done with Muslim names (who seem to fare the worse). The disappointing thing is nothing seems to have changed since the 80's, ie: the white names get 30-50% more callbacks than the others.

Here's an article from the BBC on this phenomenon.

I always laugh when people say there isn't systemic racism. It doesn't get more systemic than the workforce, nor does it get any more damaging. Literally people's livelihoods and abilities to feed their families we're talking about.

As a privileged white male I'd like to point out to you that there is no such thing as systemic racism, didn't you know ;)

Edited by osmark86
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This is one of the biggest topics and I won't do it justice. But another thing that is often forgotten is how easily  humans group each other. Now, this isn't a bad or a good thing in itself. It's how evolution has shaped us up.

Minimal Group Paradigm is an interesting excerise where the smallest piece of "difference" can make you group yourself with a specific people's for no "good reason". 

For example, if I got 20 random sample people, put them in white shirts with a blue or a red dot (10 of each) research suggests that likely  they will form groups of "their" colour not even considering other variables.

I always blame ignorance first before I blame bad intentions. I really think that Stephen, who sits next to Katie, his boss is Mark and his best mate is Andy, and sees two CVs of Surjaveen and Richard, while CVs are more or less identical, is more likely to pick Richard.

Not because of institutional hatred, racism, negative feelings towards Sarjeevan - it's just that people often tend to group themselves in "familiar" ways. 

So I'm often hesitant to call Stephens- when-they-choose-Richards racist. Ignorance is my first go to explanation. But calling Stephen "racist" will not help but is likely to dissolve the serious issue.

I think there is less racism than many think, but much more than there ever should be. 

Education can help fight ignorance.

Heck, look at how different the world used to be a 100 years ago. We are moving in the right direction.

That is not to say that there aren't serious race hating people out there. But I'd wager few of them are in police or education.

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17 minutes ago, Mic09 said:

This is one of the biggest topics and I won't do it justice. But another thing that is often forgotten is how easily  humans group each other. Now, this isn't a bad or a good thing in itself. It's how evolution has shaped us up.

Minimal Group Paradigm is an interesting excerise where the smallest piece of "difference" can make you group yourself with a specific people's for no "good reason". 

For example, if I got 20 random sample people, put them in white shirts with a blue or a red dot (10 of each) research suggests that likely  they will form groups of "their" colour not even considering other variables.

I always blame ignorance first before I blame bad intentions. I really think that Stephen, who sits next to Katie, his boss is Mark and his best mate is Andy, and sees two CVs of Surjaveen and Richard, while CVs are more or less identical, is more likely to pick Richard.

Not because of institutional hatred, racism, negative feelings towards Sarjeevan - it's just that people often tend to group themselves in "familiar" ways. 

So I'm often hesitant to call Stephens- when-they-choose-Richards racist. Ignorance is my first go to explanation. But calling Stephen "racist" will not help but is likely to dissolve the serious issue.

I think there is less racism than many think, but much more than there ever should be. 

Education can help fight ignorance.

Heck, look at how different the world used to be a 100 years ago. We are moving in the right direction.

That is not to say that there aren't serious race hating people out there. But I'd wager few of them are in police or education.

I get the point you're making here and I agree with it, but this is the very definition of institutional racism. Surjaveen missed out on a job through no other reason other than who he is.

The problem is, people think of racism as some insidious character flaw and are hesitant to use the term, when it is really nothing more than the ignorance you refer to here. That's all it is. You don't have to think people are dirty [insert slur here] to be racist. The serious race-hating people as you say are a minority.

It doesn't make Stephens here a bad person but his actions have significant consequences and we don't need to be delicate when calling it out as racism.

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1 minute ago, Keyblade said:

I get the point you're making here and I agree with it, but this is the very definition of institutional racism. Surjaveen missed out on a job through no other reason other than who he is.

But if that is racism, who is racist? Stephen? He is a good guy, has a loving family, goes to church and feeds homeless animals. He attends the local mosque and travels to Tibet to meditate and helps local people.

Maybe you are right, but maybe the words used don't really encompass the phenomenon. Because I don't think Stephen is racist, he simply picked Richard. 

I honestly think that racism is one of the worst things anyone can be accused of and an act of racism is high on my list of "evil things".

Do you think if Stephen was to be called racist, just because he picked Richard, it would do more harm than good to frame this as "racism"? 

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11 minutes ago, Mic09 said:

But if that is racism, who is racist? Stephen? He is a good guy, has a loving family, goes to church and feeds homeless animals. He attends the local mosque and travels to Tibet to meditate and helps local people.

Maybe you are right, but maybe the words used don't really encompass the phenomenon. Because I don't think Stephen is racist, he simply picked Richard. 

I honestly think that racism is one of the worst things anyone can be accused of and an act of racism is high on my list of "evil things".

Do you think if Stephen was to be called racist, just because he picked Richard, it would do more harm than good to frame this as "racism"? 

That's the problem I'm referring to. The term shouldn't have to be associated with evil, but evidently it is. It's such a charged term and that's why there's so much contention on even innocuous gestures like taking a knee before a football match. Nobody wants to be associated with evil.

Stephen isn't a racist, but he makes racist decisions at his workplace. Decisions that have very significant ramifications. He's not evil, but he's ignorant. It's nothing a little education can't change. If he changed his hiring practices he'd probably see how silly he was being. You don't need the KKK to be in power for there to be systemic racism. Good guys like Stephens with misplaced intentions are enough to keep the machine chugging along.

I'm not sure how we get over this unnecessarily negative stigma of the word racism because for one, you could argue the stigma is warranted given the history of the term. Who wants to be associated with some of the worst atrocities in recent history? The problem is, these events were all borne out of the same seemingly innocuous ignorance that Stephen displays. 

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10 hours ago, KentVillan said:

Just an example of the sort of person replying to Mings on Twitter. Claims he booed because taking the knee won’t achieve anything...

Think Mings may be ambitious in asking people whose IQ can be counted on one hand to “educate themselves”.

Honestly, this must be the stupidest take on it. 

I don't think the small group of women at work will end up curing cancer with their Mcmillan coffee mornings. I'm going to boo the shit out of them next time it happens. 

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