The Crisis(?): Racial prejudice in 21st Century sport
2/19/2013, 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public
Location: Garland Hall (Google map of this location)
"The Crisis(?) of racism in English men's soccer: a sociological explanation of how and why racial prejudice continues to exist in twenty-first century sport"
Presenter: Daniel Burdsey
The 2011-12 men's Premier League soccer season in England will likely be remembered for all the wrong reasons: a hugely exciting championship race was eclipsed by two high-profile incidents of racism on the field of play and the respective trials of the star players involved. In the first, Liverpool's Uruguayan international forward, Luis Suárez, was found guilty by an independent (English) Football Association panel of racially abusing Patrice Evra (a black Frenchman) of Manchester United. In the second, John Terry, the white captain of Chelsea (and at the time also the captain of the England men's national team) was found guilty of using racist language towards Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand (a player of dual white-Caribbean parentage). Critically for our understanding of this situation, it is the fact that racism is believed widely to have been eradicated from soccer, that makes the incidents examined in this paper and their repercussions so significant. Rather than focusing explicitly on the content of the Suárez-Evra and Terry-Ferdinand episodes, and the subsequent investigations and verdicts, this paper contextualises and analyses the range of reactions and responses that were articulated within the soccer industry: by players, managers, club owners and campaigners. Specifically the paper highlights a number of features pertaining to the relationship between race and English soccer: a failure to appreciate the structural or systemic components of contemporary racisms; an increasingly neoliberal approach that seeks to privatise, individualise and silence issues of racial prejudice; and the presence of a colour-blind ideology that, despite publicly-pronounced commitments to anti-racism, enables racial inequality to remain embedded.
Daniel Burdsey is a Sociologist and Principal Lecturer at the University of Brighton. His research interests include British Asian Identities and Popular Culture, Racism in Sport, Theorizing Racism, and Race and Identity in Coastal Environments. He is the author and editor of numerous books, such as British Asians and Football (Routledge 2007), and articles.
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