Football is known as “the beautiful game” and is arguably the most popular sport on the planet.
With professional clubs and leagues in nearly every country and its marquee tournament, the FIFA World Cup, football is able to unite the world like nothing else.
But the sport also has an ugly side. A history of xenophobia, racism, and homophobia has plagued professional football for decades. And, as Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup, anti-discrimination groups have documented dozens of racist behaviors linked to the country’s domestic football program, bringing into question the game’s “inclusiveness”.
Piara Powar is one of the most respected voices in the fight against discrimination in the sport. He’s the executive director of FARE, Football Against Racism in Europe, an organization dedicated to ending bias in the world of football. FARE Network is currently active in more than 40 countries around the world.
Piara Powar joined Mike Walter from London to discuss football’s social challenges.
PIARA POWAR: Taking a stand against racismPiara Powar, chair of Football Against Racism in Europe, talks about the game’s social challenges.
Powar says that one of the reasons racism and hate seem to be institutionalized in the world of professional football is that the culture surrounding the game has not modernized with the times.
“When societies began to change, football didn’t change, its supporters didn’t change, the administrators didn’t grasp the nettle early enough, and so [hate] has been almost this embedded feature of football,” Powar said.