Examples of racism in sports

World Today

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2013, file photo, then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Billionaire and ex-LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling announced on Tuesday that he’s going to sue the website TMZ and his ex-mistress over the infamous recording that led to his eventual loss of the NBA team’s ownership. He claims it was edited to make him sound racist. The incident unleashed large-scale furor that went beyond the sports community, and brings back the spotlight to racism in sports.

Racism in sports, as in life, is not a new issue. Domestic and international sporting events have been plagued by major racism related controversies and allegations — from spats between players to verbal abuse by aggressive sporting fans. While there’s literally too many examples to count, here’s a look at some of the alleged incidents of racism across the world of sport.

Source: AP

Source: AP


  • The NBA recently found itself at the center stage of the racism in sports controversy. Then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded on tape making racist remarks against African Americans to his mistress, V. Stiviano. According to a tape released by TMZ, Sterling is heard scolding Stiviano for bringing African American’s to the game and posting photographs with her posing with them. In his latest lawsuit, Sterling has accused ex-girlfriend Sriviano and TMZ of  violating his privacy and causing damage on a “scale of unparalleled and unprecedented magnitude,” according to a report published by Associated Press.
  • An ad published featuring the Spanish Basketball team during the Beijing Olympics featured the Spanish team members in their Olympic gear making slit-eye gestures. The ad, which had photographs of both the men’s and women’s teams, took up a full page in Marca, the country’s daily sports newspaper.


Fans in action on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Landover, Maryland. Chelsea and FC Barcelona face off at the 2015 International Champions Cup. (Damian Strohmeyer/AP Images for International Champions Cup)  

Fans in action on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Landover, Maryland. Chelsea and FC Barcelona face off at the 2015 International Champions Cup. (Damian Strohmeyer/AP Images for International Champions Cup)

  • Fans of Chelsea Football club were accused of racism after a video emerged of Chelsea fans singing racist chants and refusing to let a black man on a train ahead of the Champions League clash against Paris St. Germain in March 2015.
  • In January 2013, Kevin Prince Boateng, a player from Ghana for AC Milan, walked off the pitch with teammates after alleged racist chants and ‘monkey’ gestures by supporters of the opposing team.
  • French footballer Nicolas Anelka of West Bromwich Albion made a hand gesture, called the quenelle, while celebrating a goal in 2013. The gesture is perceived by some to be anti-Semitic. He has since said it was meant as anti-establishment, not anti-Semitic.
  • Australian Rules Football star Adam Goodes, an indigenous Australian, who is alleged to have ended up taking time off from competition to consider retirement following being booed whenever he got the ball. Goodes returned to practice on Aug. 4, alleviating some fans’ fears that he may have quit over the booing.


  • Former South Sydney National Rugby League captain Bryan Fletcher allegedly went on a racist rant against Parramatta player Dean Widders, an Indigenous Australian, at a 2005 game.
  • Also in 2005, Australian Rugby Union player Justin Harrison was accused of verbally abusing his opposition teams’ player with racist remarks.



Source: AP

  • In September 2011, a fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt against the Detroit Red Wings in London, Ontario. Simmonds later said in an interview that these types of things are expected “when you are a black man playing a predominately white-man’s sport.”
Source: AP

Source: AP


  • Australian Olympic legend Dawn Fraser was accused of racism after he told Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios to “go back to where (his) parents came from.” Kyrgious’ father is Greek and mother is Malaysian. The comments were made after outrage spread over Kyrgious’ alleged throwing away of a game during the 2015 Wimbledon. Fraser later on apologized for his comments.


  • The Board of Cricket, Australia faced accusations of racism in December 2013, after the organization tweeted out an image of four Sikh men in Tellytubby costumes with the caption, “Will the real Monty Panesar please stand up.” None of the men pictured were British cricketer Monty Panesar. It was later deleted and an apology was tweeted out.
  • According to ESPN, in 2003, during a Wetherby League match in Yorkshire between Great Preston and St. Chad’s, four Asian players were allegedly at the receiving end of various racist comments — including being referred to as  “al-Qaida members.”

These are not the only sports to have reported incidents of alleged racism– wrestling, ice hockey and numerous college and high school teams have also been accused of racism backed gestures.

Sources: pennlive.com, abcnews.com, theday.co.uk, theguardian.com, NBC, ESPN, AP, Yahoo, cbc.ca, npr.org, The Australian Human Rights Commission.