Racism in European football

Racism in European football

The problem of racism in European football is being described by some as “endemic”.

Players, fans and ethnic minority communities are abused regularly in some parts of Europe where far right activity is rife and National Football Federations are in denial of the problem.

European problem

Neo-nazi and neo-fascist groups target football grounds in Europe in the same way that the National Front and other far right groups targetted English Football stadiums as a recuitment ground. Among the worst affected clubs are Lazio and Verona in Italy, Paris Saint-Germain in France, and Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza in Spain.

Southern Europe

The problem of racism in Southern Europe was highlighted when England’s black players received mass monkey chants from thousands of fans at the Bernabeu in their friendly game against Spain in Novemeber 2004.

There has since been an increasing number of incidents where black players have been racially abused in Spanish football.

In 2004/05, Real Zaragoza were fined 600 euros by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) after a section of their fans directed racist abuse at Barcelona forward, Samuel Eto’o. Athletico Madrid were also fined 600 euros by the RFEF for the racial abuse of Espanyol’s Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni in a league match. Deportivo Coruna, Albacete, and Getafe also received fines for similar incidents in their grounds.

In Italy,  Messina’s Ivory Coast defender Zoro threatened to halt a Serie A game in Italy in November 2005 after suffering racial abuse from visiting Inter Milan supporters.

Other prominent problems in the past in Italy include when a Jewish player, Ronnie Rosenthal, was unable to play even one game for Udinese because of massive pressure from neo-fascist circles and Aaron Winter, a native of Suriname of Hindustani extraction was subject to attacks at Lazio involving cries of ‘Niggers and Jews Out’.

Central and Eastern Europe

In Central and Eastern Europe problems of racism, and anti-Semitism in particular, are a part of every day life. The racist abuse directed at England’s black players in the Euro2004 qualifier against Slovakia in 2002 brought the issue to the attention of the international football community.

However, the problem of widespread racism in Central and Eastern European football stadiums had existed long before with black players playing in the domestic Leagues of countries including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania being subjected to mass monkey chanting and being pelted with bananas every week.


To challenge the problem anti- racism campaigners, ethnic minority communities and some National Football Associations have set up anti- racism campaigns to raise awareness of the problem and encourage fans to stand against racism.

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