"Racism has won" - Rüdiger's disgust at Chelsea v Spurs

In December 2019, Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger claimed he was racially abused, during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. Rüdiger was booed and jeered at by Spurs fans, and claims to have seen some of them making racist gestures. The incident was investigated by Spurs as well as the Metropolitan Police, however both have since concluded that […]

Em Richardson
10th March 2020
Image: Wikimedia Commons
In December 2019, Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger claimed he was racially abused, during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. Rüdiger was booed and jeered at by Spurs fans, and claims to have seen some of them making racist gestures.

The incident was investigated by Spurs as well as the Metropolitan Police, however both have since concluded that there was no evidence of racist abuse.

This led Rüdiger to claim that “racism has won”, since the verdict means any fans involved in the incident will not be barred from attending future matches.

At the time of the incident, which led to the game being paused, Spurs had vowed to take the “strongest possible action” against offending fans. As soon as Rüdiger indicated that he could hear racist abuse during the match, a PA system announcement could be heard stating that “racist behaviour is interfering with the game”. The early signs appeared to indicate that strong action would be taken against the alleged perpetrators of any racist abuse.

Yet, both investigations into the incident have now ceased, on the grounds of a lack of evidence. In part, this is likely to be because spectators have failed to report racist behaviour in their midst.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

To me, this poses several issues. Firstly, I find it hard to believe that the investigating bodies were unable to pinpoint who was responsible for this behaviour. In a world where every moment of a match is filmed, be it by television cameras, CCTV cameras or by individuals posting on social media, footage of such incidents ought to exist somewhere.

If Rüdiger was able to see and hear the abuse from on the pitch, it can hardly be described as difficult to spot. I firmly believe that, if the police were to put time and effort into analysing and enhancing match footage, they could identify the individuals responsible, and reprimand them appropriately.

In terms of individual fans, I think more can be done to hold other, racist supporters accountable for their actions. Whilst it may be intimidating to reprimand someone from their behaviour, there is nothing stopping fans from telling a match steward about racist abuse, or from handing police any footage they may have taken.

You may support the same team as the person sitting next to you, but that comradery shouldn’t extend to failing to report a crime. I’d argue that doing so is in fans’ best interests- if they report such behaviour it can be dealt with quickly, so the match doesn’t have to be halted or cancelled.

Moreover, they can ward off allegations that supporters of their beloved club are in any way bigoted. For the same reason, I think football clubs themselves ought to distance themselves from any supporters who commit racist acts, in order to spread a clear message that they do not condone such behaviour.

In my opinion, those who commit racist acts ought to be banned from football grounds, at the very least. Preferably, they should be punished by police. At the end of the day, players should never have to endure racist taunts.

Racism isn’t “banter”- it’s illegal in our society, and perpetrators ought to be punished accordingly. It’s just unfortunate that this won’t happen until both clubs and supporters make more of an effort to identify the individuals responsible. Perhaps cancelling any match where racist behaviour is reported would provide the appropriate incentive.

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