By Joseph Cotter (FORAS Member)
What do Joseph N’Do, Stephanie Roche, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Ken Doherty and John Joe Joyce all have in common besides being leading figures in their chosen field of sport? All have suffered racism; racism because of their colour, their gender, their religion, their nationality or their ethnic background. We like to think of ourselves as a pluralist society but have we really progressed from the days in the early 80’s when Cork welcomed its first basketball players who were persons of colour? Coincidentally, 1981 was the same year that a young footballer named Paul McGrath signed his first professional contract with St. Patrick’s Athletic while only two years previously, in 1979, a young Chris Houghton became the first player of mixed race to play for the Republic of Ireland.
Football is played in more countries than any other sport and because of that, it is perhaps more exposed to clashes of race, religion and sexism. Particularly worrying, given the growth of women’s sport (especially with the advances being made by our own Cork City W.F.C.) is the degree to which women and girls have been the subject of abuse. A recent report in the U.K. revealed that 61.9% of all women playing football had experienced sexual abuse. FARE stands for FOOTBALL AGAINST RACISM in EUROPE and from the 5th to the 19th of October, the group are trying to highlight this and other forms of racism in our sport. Everyone will have seen the slogan “Show Racism The Red Card” and this is at the heart of everything that Cork City F.C. and ALL it’s fans should stand for. When we sing “City ‘til we die” we do so with one voice and one hope – to inspire the players on the pitch to be the best that they can be. We wave flags from Italy, Algeria, Bulgaria, Burundi, Hungary, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Wales and many more. We sing for our team that has been made up of many nationalities and many creeds and colours.
Unfortunately, at all levels of the game, from amateur to international, there are still incidents of racism. Cork City F.C. and FARE believes such behaviour, on and off the field, is unacceptable and unwanted by the majority of fans and players. With your help we can SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD and we urge you to help spread that message by using the hashtag #FootballPeople.
What else can you do? Subscribe to the FARE newsletter (simply send an email to email@example.com and ask to be added). More details on the groups projects can be found on the FARE website http://farenet.org. Spread the message on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) and help SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD because together we are stronger. City ‘til we die!