Sports and Racism: A Comparative Study of Discrimination in Spanish and German Football
The Eurozone Crisis has prompted various types of protest within the European community. One of the most widespread and innovative is the use of artistic media. The papers in the Art and Performance group explore how new trends in art were born and how they have influenced the youth affected by the crisis. Specifically, the papers will discuss these themes within music, graffiti art, film and soccer. These trends have been shaped and developed by the history of Germany and Spain. Our research explores how artists and athletes are expressing their views through their work, how it is being interpreted by the general public and how it is affecting sentiments within communities. The focus will be on immigration, unemployment, and the recent economic crisis and how these factors have created tension within youth culture in the United States, Spain and Germany. The relationship between art, globalization and integration will be discussed. This project was conducted in the cities of Berlin, Leon, and Madrid: three cities rich with history, but also with modern movements catalyzed by the need for social change.
This paper specifically will have a slightly different focus from the others in the Arts and Performance group.This study looks at how fans are expressing their opinions on race and immigration at soccer games and how the athletes and the governing bodies of soccer are reacting to the fans’ behavior.
How has the recent economic crisis affected both the amount and severity of anti-immigrant and racist displays in German and Spanish soccer?
Sports are embedded in culture, and when culture is affected by economic and political crises, the role of sports changes as well. Sports are popular throughout all classes of society and have the power to both create rivalries between people of different regions and make complete strangers friends. When trying to narrow down the subject of my research from the broad theme of social activism in sports, it became apparent that racism is still a massive issue in the world of soccer. Since the days of Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, race has been a controversial aspect of sports. Although today it plays a much more subtle role (for instance, there are no segregated leagues), it is still very much a matter of concern. This past year Kevin-Prince Boateng, a Ghanaian international player on AC Milan, walked off the field in the middle of a match because he refused to tolerate severe racial abuse from a section of fans. He later claimed he would do this anytime he felt that there was inadequate disciplinary action taken, and several other players, including Mario Baotelli, echoed this opinion (“Boateng Makes…”). Race-related incidents have been happening at an alarming frequency in the past few years, and in order to begin to understand why, we must first look at several important social theories.
The most relevant theoretical concept to racism in sports is called Critical Race Theory, or CRT. A brief definition of CRT is that it is a framework “from which to explore and examine the racism in society that privileges whiteness as it disadvantages others because of their ‘blackness’” (Hylton 6). What CRT boils down to is the concept that racism must be viewed as a bigger picture rather than just a string of isolated incidents. CRT states that to understand the reasoning behind specific incidents, it is vital to look at the issues causing racism and how prejudice is embedded in society. “Centering of ‘race’ and racism in our analyses of sport should engage a thoughtful consideration of racial processes that explore and examine further, past and present processes and practices in sport that are neither inevitable nor accidental. Rather, they can be seen as part of a cycle of activity…” (8). Critical Race Theory moves from single-issue debates to a much more comprehensive theoretical approach that covers bigger issues of race. Thus, it is relevant to understand a few other race related concepts. Racism is born out of fear of both the other and the unknown. In times of economic crisis and political malaise, people are unhappy with the current government and there is an increase of extreme beliefs. A rise in popularity of more radical political parties and opinions usually correlates to stronger anti-immigrant sentiment (Bruckner).
Another important thing to know about the history of racism in soccer specifically is the rise of soccer “hooligans” in the tail end of the twentieth century. These were extremely loyal and passionate fans who were primarily found in Northern and Eastern Europe. They were known for their love of their teams, public violence and alcohol consumption. The primary difference between German and Spanish hooligans was the reason behind their violence. The German hooligans were known as neo-Nazis and nationalists, while the Spanish hooligans were spurred on by a hatred of those with opposing political beliefs (“Another Sorry…”). All hooligans were, for the most part, very outwardly racist and caused a lot of public damage, so FIFA (the main institution in world soccer) had to take action. On July 7th, 2001 the Extraordinary Congress of FIFA met at the FIFA Conference against racism in Buenos Aires. They created what was at the time the largest anti-discrimination initiative in the history of the sport and which was the beginning of the modern fight against racism in soccer. Some examples of the many new policies were for referees to be more vigilant in regards to racial abuse from fans, players and coaches, for coaches to be stricter against racist players, and for everyone in the world soccer community to “combat effectively and conclusively all manifestations of racism within the game” (“Extraordinary FIFA…”). However, these guidelines were all relatively vague and it was very difficult to punish players or organizations that didn’t adhere to them. The years following saw a few promising revisions and additions to the act, but all forms of punishment have remained relatively ineffective.
4. Research Methods
While doing my research there were two primary ways in which I collected information. The first was through reading secondary sources directly related to my topic. There has been past research on racism in soccer, and these previous studies gave me context and helped me understand some of the bigger issues at play. Because there had already been information gathered about racism in sports, I was able to see the effects that the recent Eurozone crisis has had on sports and discrimination. This was also extremely important for me when doing research on recent public displays of racism at soccer games in Germany and Spain. For example, through reading online, I was granted access to stories about incidents in parts of the country we did not travel to, such as Dortmund and their struggles with neo-Nazis.
Interviews and meetings were the second part of my research process. What I was unable to find on the internet, and what is impossible to capture in any article are all the stories which people have from their own experiences. Almost anyone whom I met or approached on the street could speak, at least very briefly, about their opinions and experiences on my topic and this is definitely one of the strengths of this type of research. This system of gathering information was most effective for me in Germany, where most of the population spoke English at least to some degree. This is not to say that it was ineffective in Spain, but unfortunately the general population (or at least the people I approached in Leon) spoke worse English than people in Germany. I was one of the few people on our trip who spoke almost no Spanish and this was clearly problematic. I had a few formal interviews and these were perhaps the most helpful. When I was able to talk with the subjects at length it became more of a discourse than an interview. For example in Germany as a group we visited the soccer club Türkiyemspor. They are a low-level German soccer team and have a reputation of being mostly Turkish immigrants. They face a great deal of adversity, especially when they travel to Eastern Germany, and when I was able to talk with a representative one on one afterwards, he gave me a great deal of information about the club’s struggles. These were extremely relevant to my topic and something that I would not have been able to read about on the internet. An example of a less organized interview happened in Spain, when we were asked to talk to three random people who met certain characteristics. I asked a younger teen (around age 16) who was practicing shooting on a goal in a park about his experiences with racism, and this was also very informational in a different way. He was able to give me his ideas about my topic and gave what he surmised was the opinion of most kids in the region. I also ascertained a lot of information from our guest lecturers. They were all very well educated and, even though some talks were much more helpful to me than others, most gave me things to research and look into.
My interviews and secondary research come together to paint a picture about what is happening in European soccer. They combine to create an, albeit small and incomplete, narrative about how the recent global crisis has influenced discrimination in Spanish and German soccer. The problem with doing a paper solely based upon interviews and secondary sources is that my research fails to tell the whole story. Being here for only five weeks is not enough time to fully answer my question, and thus more research is needed to adequately represent the situation. The problems with my research lie in the sample I took. One of the issues with my sample is that it is very small, and thus potentially not entirely representative. I was only able to talk to a handful of people, and these people could have very different opinions and stories than others. The other problem with the sample lies in the selection. While in Germany we were only in one city and while in Spain we only visited two. There might be regions of the countries with different opinions that are not represented in my research. I also only talked with people who spoke English, people who had the time to talk to me, and people who looked approachable. This again might exclude a number of people and means that my sample is not necessarily indicative of the population as a whole.
It was apparent from the first few days in Berlin that neo-Nazism and fascism was a rising issue in Germany. Even in my initial conversations about my (at the time still vague) project with professors at Humbolt University, it was evident that nationalist sentiments were gaining popularity and being expressed at soccer games. This point was again clear when we took a tour of the Bundestag and Reichstag, two of the main meeting places of the German government. When there, we were able to see the agenda of the next day’s session and one of the main things they were scheduled to talk about was the banning of the NPD, or the National Democratic Party of Germany. The NPD is on the far right of the political spectrum, and has been “widely accused of being racist, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner; it's said to want to overthrow the German constitution” (Bleiker). Since the Eurozone crisis the NPD had gathered enough votes in certain eastern and northern regions to gain seats in local parliaments. The reasons behind banning the party are that their doctrine goes against the German constitution and that followers of the party are responsible for around a thousand anti-immigrant and racist acts of violence and abuse in the past year alone (Bleiker), many of which occurred at or following soccer games.
One club soccer team who has seen an increase in racism since the beginning of the recent global recession is Borrusia Dortmund. They have been one of the most successful club teams of late, which is shown by their appearance in the finals of the most prestigious European club tournament. Despite their successes on the field, they are dealing with a huge problem: the amount of anti-immigrant attacks and abuse from their neo-Nazi fans. Dortmund has long been an attractive destination for a great number of immigrants, but recently the city has become the hub of neo-Nazism in West Germany. Some far-right extremists have recruited some of the club’s most passionate fans to sympathize with them, and this has led to an increase in violent attacks and behavior at matches. The club has a zero-tolerance policy for violent and hurtful public displays of racism, and at each game they use social workers to defuse any tensions and kick out those who instigate abuse. This was moderately effective until recently, when two workers were badly beaten in separate incidents (“Dortmund Deals…”). One of the men was Thilo Danielsmeyer, the head of The Dortmund Fan Project. The goal of this group is to promote tolerance while chastising xenophobic actions. Lately, more youth members who are unemployed have left the group and began to sympathize with the message of the NPD and other such parties. This trend of young people sympathizing with extremists is to be expected when there is higher youth unemployment. The recently unemployed youth have expressed their frustrations through racism and rioting, where in one incident alone, over 180 arrests were made and eleven people (including eight police officers) were severely injured. The unhappy youth are being supported and urged on by the older generation who were responsible for the rise of soccer hooliganism (“Dortmund Deals…). Many people from this older generation of hooligans are banned from attending all higher level German football competitions. However, they still make their presence and opinions known at lower level games, and this was clearly evident in my conversations with the members of the soccer club Türkiyemspor.
Türkiyemspor is a soccer organization based in Berlin that is currently playing in the Capital League, one of the lower levels of German club soccer. The organization is close to thirty years old, and has strong roots and connections to Turkey. The founding members were all Turkish migrants, and even though today the team is far from exclusively Turkish, they have a reputation of being an immigrant based club. This has been one of the strongest aspects of the club’s identity and they have been known as a “motor of integration” for both immigrants and women ("Türkiyemspor”). Türkiyemspor is the only migrant based club to have both a women’s’ team and a girls’ team. They are located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, which is known for being a primarily Turkish area, and have been a symbol of successful migration in West Berlin ("Türkiyemspor”). However, when we met with a representative from the team (who will be referred to as “Alex”), it was apparent that the club has fallen on hard times and that very little is being done to aid them.
Alex informed us about the struggle that migrant teams in lower level leagues are going through in Berlin, saying that teams such as Türkiyemspor are given no help from the league or the city. This has led to extremely poor infrastructure for these teams and many of the clubs do not have their own fields. They are forced to practice on public spaces while primarily German teams are given their own pitches. This means that teams such as Türkiyemspor are forced to travel to other parts of the city and country to play matches, which has led to many stories of racial discrimination. Alex could have recounted thousands of stories of how the team and its players were persecuted, but he instead told some of the most egregious displays of anti-immigrant sentiments he encountered. In 2010 the club travelled east to play a game which around thirty or forty people who called themselves the “NSboiz” (which they claim stands for “New Society” but is much more likely a reference to National Socialism) attended. These people were all wearing shirts that displayed the name of a very racist song by a band whose singer is a known and currently incarcerated neo-Nazi. They spent the game singing the song and chanting for the team to leave and go back to where they came from. Another time, they were playing a game in eastern Germany and there was a large banner in the stands that read “we will eat brats instead of doner”, which is clearly nationalist and anti-Turk as doner is a traditional Turkish fast food. On another occasion, a player on Türkiyemspor was fouled, and instead of issuing a penalty the referee told the player to get up and called him a “lazy Turk”. This is particularly alarming and disheartening because the referees are usually the ones expected to stop and control abuse and discrimination. These are just some of the bigger examples they experienced; there were countless times in which smaller incidents of discrimination happened, such as someone throwing rocks at players and at their bus. Alex said that the club can usually tell which games will be trouble, and they can invite a neutral observer from the league who can testify to the abuse and hand out fines. For the most part these fines are ineffective and don’t amount to anything more than a slap on the wrist for clubs. Alex stated that the number of incidents and outwards acts of hostility have definitely gone up in the past few years. This is interesting to see that, even though Germany has been doing remarkably since the Eurozone crisis, the unemployed youth are still making their extreme and racist opinons heard publically. Alex believes that this is not a problem particular to eastern Germany, instead, claiming that racism and discrimination are global issues that only manifest in soccer because it is a microcosm of the world we live in (“Struggles of…”).
I also met and talked with Pauline who is a member of Türkiyemspor’s girls’ youth team. She is seventeen years old and has only played soccer for around six years, but she was still able to tell me stories of discrimination that both she and other youth teams faced. Pauline said that all the members of her team are frequently referred to as “Aisha”, which is one of the most common Turkish names. Another incident she informed me of occurred after the U19 men’s team won an important game in hostile territory. When they were showering after the game, the water shut off abruptly in their locker room while the same did not happen for the home team (Pauline). Even though it was supposedly a mistake, it was clearly intentional and a sad example of how discrimination has permeated the youth level soccer in Germany. She said that, according to older people on the team, this has only become a serious problem recently. This is again surprising because of Germany’s financial successes, and is indicative of the effect that the Eurozone crisis has had on racism and prejudice in soccer.
My experience in Spain told a different story. While doing searches on the internet for Spanish discrimination and racism the results were different than when I was searching for Germany. There were a few headlines and stories of racial abuse in Spain, such as Samuel Eto’o (a famous Cameroonian international player) who almost walked off the pitch due to abuse from fans in Zaragoza (Hughes). However, that incident was in 2006, and since then there have been very few published stories of racial or anti-immigrant abuse from fans. I expected that upon getting to Spain and actually talking with people, I would uncover a hidden narrative of discrimination that is just not talked about publically or given media attention. This was not the case. All of the people whom I talked with said that the general sentiment among Spaniards is that racism is not an issue, and no one was concerned about it. A clear example of this was when a Spanish teenager whom I talked to in a park said that “No, I have not seen racism, it does not really happen here” (Anonymous Teenager). Another example of such testimony is from Isaac Asare, a Ghanaian football player, who has played professionally in Spain for the last few years and is currently playing for Spanish club team Rayo Vallecano. When he was asked about his experiences with racism in Spain during an interview, he responded “Racism? I haven’t experienced it” (Asante). This is surprising considering Spain’s youth unemployment is dangerously high (over 50% as of this year), and one would expect this to lead to a rise in violence and anti-immigrant displays.
Personally, I have deep connections to both the United States (where I grew up) and Poland (where my family is) and I could not help but compare my results to these countries. Soccer is much less popular in the United States, but nonetheless race still is an issue in American sports culture. In American football, a white wide receiver recently came under fire for using the n-word to describe his teammate’s brother (Corbett). But as a whole, America appears to be like Spain in that there is no long standing narrative of abuse from fans or other players. Poland, on the other hand, is known for being one of the primary offenders of racism in soccer. They have a long standing history of hooligans, and they drew flack in 2012 for racist displays from fans during a very important international tournament in their country, the Euro Cup (Karon). In this regard they are very much like Germany, which is to be expected as the problem of racism is very much embedded in northern and eastern European sports culture.
My research suggests that the recent European economic struggle has increased the amount of discrimination and anti-immigrant displays in German soccer. From talking with representatives from Türkiyemspor’s club and youth teams, it is clear that racism is prevalent in all levels of competition and that there has been little done by organizations and the league to minimize it. According to Critical Race Theory, this is to be expected: “racism occurs at every level of sport ranging from innocuous exclusions at local clubs to discrimination in sports policy and practice and racist behavior in the stands” (Hylton 10). It was also disheartening to hear how little the league was doing to lessen racism and punish those who instigate public displays of racism. The soccer leagues in Germany dole out small fines which are little more than slaps on the wrist and do little to actually discipline clubs or players. This too can be explained by CRT: “When institutions like sport become complicit in institutionalized racist acts, it no longer takes the eﬀorts of rogue actors or right-wing organizations when racism is intentionally or unwittingly perpetuated” (Hylton 3). Despite these explanations, it was still surprising to see that this was true in Germany, where youth unemployment is phenomenally low.
What is almost equally surprising is that the same conclusion cannot be researched about Spain. Since the Eurozone crisis, there has been a lack of a surge in racism and discrimination in Spanish soccer, and as a whole the amount of anti-immigrants displays do not appear to have been increased by the recent economic downturn. This is peculiar and not something that I was not expecting to find. With Spain’s youth unemployment shockingly high, one would assume that this would lead to an increase in extremism in soccer. Racism in soccer appeared to be a global issue, or at least one common to all major European soccer countries (e.g. France, England, Poland, Italy). This begs the question: why is Spain different? Is it the case that they are the outlier, that they are the shining example of a more tolerant sports culture? Perhaps, but I believe there are other elements at play. Finding a reason behind the lack of racism in Spanish soccer would be the primary focus of my future research. It is very likely that there are several contributing factors, and my research has led me to a few preliminary theories that would merit future exploration.
One possible explanation is that Spanish people might not necessarily view something as racist, even though it is clearly is. An example of this happened in 2008 when a group of fans covered themselves in black paint and shouted racist slogans at a British-African Formula One driver during a race. They claimed that it was just meant to distract the driver, and was in no way meant to be racist. Some claim that this is a much more common and larger problem, and as a whole “The Spanish don't want to recognize this behavior as racist, but that is exactly what it is” (Hamilos). When it comes to analyzing the number of race based crimes in Spain, there are conflicting reports. The government claims that the total number is very small and “lower than in the UK, France, or Germany” but other independent agencies claim “that there are 4,000 hate crimes each year in Spain” (Hamilos). Critical Race Theorists would explain this by saying that the fact that Spanish people do not see discriminatory actions as racist is indicative of a deeper cultural problem which shows the level of prejudice is embedded deep in society and is closely tied to its past. One possible explanation is that under Franco there were relatively few immigrants to Spain, which has led to an entire generation of people who are not familiar with how to interact with people of other races.
Another possible reason behind this contrast is the changing role of globalization and difference in immigrant culture in Spain and Germany. During the early 2000’s, while Spain’s economy was booming and there was an abundance of jobs, immigrants were flocking to Spain. Now the opposite is true. “Not only are immigrants returning home; many Spaniards are also leaving to look for work abroad” (Ortiz). One of the primary places immigrants are going is Germany, where there are many citizens who are losing business and jobs to these immigrants. This, coupled with a lack of proper immigrant integration could help explain why there are more anti-immigrant outbursts in Germany. The opposite is true for Spain: the lack of recent immigrants has led to fewer public acts of nationalism. With regards to Spanish soccer, there are also much fewer immigrant players than in most countries. Many club teams such as Barcelona and Atelitc Bilbao pride themselves on growing talent from their Spanish youth programs, and rarely spend a lot of money on foreign talent. Spain’s national team is composed of strictly people who are of solely Spanish descent, while Germany has many people who are, for example, half German and half Turkish (Karon). The recent change in flow of immigration coupled with a lack of foreign-born players in the Spanish soccer system might contribute to the lack of nationalist displays of violence at soccer games.
A last potential factor (one that is worthy of its own paper) could be that Spain has a stronger national identity and a stronger social capital than Germany. Mariann Vaczi argues that after the transition to a post-Franco democratic system, the Spanish national team struggled to unite as one and win on an international stage. The plight of the national team was attributed to “a lack of patriotism on part of players from ethno-regional peripheries” (Vaczi). Sociologist Ramón Llopis Goig cites the era after Franco as the “de-nationalization” of soccer in Spain. He argues this happened because of the “strengthening of national identities through local clubs” (Vaczi). Franco’s dictatorship left Spain fractured, and with a lack of support for the central government, it makes sense that people would be more tied to their regional teams than the national team as a whole. Despite their economic failures, the recent sustained national success of Spanish soccer (winning the last two World Cups and the most recent Euro Cup) is believed to represent how Spain has advanced to become politically and socially united. In theory, this strengthened national identity coupled with a presumed higher social capital (in short, a way of measuring the togetherness and strength of networks in a community) could be what has led to fewer violent displays at soccer games.
Looking into which, if any, of these elements are responsible for the difference in number of anti-immigrant incidents would be a fascinating topic of future research. With that said, the problem of racism still looms over the immediate future of soccer, and without an organized affront to tackle the issue, it will haunt the beautiful game for years to come. Recently there have been pieces of legislation and punishment that are much more effective in combatting racism. UEFA (Union of European Football Associations, another major governing body of soccer) President Michel Platini says that new legislation will allow referees who are made aware of racial abuse to give warnings and even stop the game. He says that the first time this happens, they close the stand in which the abuse is coming from for the rest of the game and remove those who are sitting there from the stadium. If it happens again, there is a 50,000 Euro fine to the club and the entire stadium can be closed indefinitely (Platini). FIFA’s Anti-Racism Task Force chairman, Jeffery Webb, claims that teams who are second offenders for racial abuse are at risk for point deductions, expulsions, or even relegation (Webb). This is very drastic and could really affect a team, such as Italy’s Roma, who are annually major contenders for the league championship and rumored to be eligible for this punishment. Although these punishments are a promising beginning, I believe that in order for racist and anti-immigrant displays to be truly minimized in soccer, even harsher penalties must be enacted. For instance, clubs need to be fined more heavily for having racist fans. After talking with people from Türkiyemspor, it was clear that even fines of 50,000 euros do not really affect a profitable soccer club. I believe that more outreach needs to be done towards youth affected by this economic trouble. In addition, stricter punishments, such as temporary or even lifelong bans, must be doled out more frequently to fans that instigate abuse during games.
7. References and Bibliography
Anonymous Teenager. Personal interview. 11 July 2013.
"Another Sorry Outbreak of the English Disease." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 17 June 2004. Web. 02 Aug. 2013.
Asante, Angela. "I Haven't Experienced Racism in Spain - Nana Asare." Ghanaweb.com. Ghana Web HomePage, 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 July 2013.
Bleiker, Carla. "Another Attempt to Ban the Far-right NPD | Germany | DW.DE | 25.04.2013." Dw.de. Deutsche Welle, 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 June 2013.
"Boateng Makes Racism Walkout Vow." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 July 2013.
Bruckner, Markus, and Hans Peter Gruner. "Economic Growth and the Rise of Political Extremism: Theory and Evidence." University of Mannheim Press (2010): 1-29.
Corbett, Jim. "Riley Cooper Still Earning Eagles' Teammates Trust after Slur." Usatoday.com. USA Today, 1 Aug. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2013.
"Dortmund Deals with Surge in Neo-Nazi Fan Violence." Sportsillustrated.com. Cable News Network, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 24 July 2013.
"Extraordinary FIFA Congress Ratifies Resolution Against Racism." FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale De Football, 7 July 2001. Web. 23 July 2013.
"FIFA Against Racism: A Decade of Milestones." FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale De Football, 2011. Web. 23 July 2013.
"Germany: When East and West Became One." FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale De Football Association, 22 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 July 2013.
Hamilos, Paul. "Racism, What Racism? Asks Spain." Guardian.co.ul. The Guardian, 8 Feb. 2008. Web. 20 July 2013.
Hughes, Rob. "Racist Spanish Fans Push Eto'o to the Edge." Nytimes.com. New York Times, 26 Feb. 2006. Web. 24 July 2013.
Humlebaek, Carston, and Paloma A. Fernandez. "Collective Memory and National Identity in the Spanish Democracy: The Legacies of Francoism and the Civil War." History and Memory 14 (2002): 121-64. Project Muse. Web. 24 July 2013.
Hylton, Kevin. "Race and Sport: Critical Theory." The Social Issues Collection (2008): 1-19.Routledge. Web. 12 July 2013.
Karon, Tony. "Euro 2012: Racist Abuse of Dutch Players in Poland." World.time.com. Time Magazine, 08 June 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2013.
Karon, Tony. "Is Spain’s Soccer Following Its Economy Down the Toilet? Don’t Be Daft!" Sports.time.com. Time Magazine, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 July 2013.
Nyari, Cristian. "The Rise of German Soccer." Nytimes.com. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 July 2013.
Ortiz, Fiona. "Spain's Population Falls as Immigrants Flee Crisis." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Pauline. Personal interview. 6 July 2013.
Platini, Michel. “Platini outlines UEFA’s racism reforms”. Interviewed by Pedro Pinto. CNN. Cable News Network, 12 June, 2013. Web. 28 June 2013.
Sinnott, John. "For Italy's 'ultras,' Nothing Black and White about Football and Racism." CNN. Cable News Network, 10 June 2013. Web. 23 July 2013.
"Struggles of Türkiyemspor." (Last Name Not Given), Alex. Personal interview. 4 July 2013.
Tremlett, Giles. Ghosts of Spain: Travels through a Country's Hidden past. London: Faber and Faber, 2006. Print.
"Türkiyemspor." Türkiyemspor.info. Türkiyemspor Berlin, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013.
Vaczi, Mariann. ""The Spanish Fury": A Political Geography of Soccer in Spain." International Review for the Sociology of Sport (2013): 2-16. SAGE Publications. Web. 22 July 2013.
Webb, Jeffery. “FIFA Pass Racism Reforms”. Interviewed by Pedro Pinto. CNN. Cable News Network, 13, June 2013. Web, 28 June 2013.
8. Cultural Sensitivity
The main surprise I had while doing this research was not finding a lot of racism in Spanish soccer while finding a great deal of it in German soccer. I was genuinely expecting not to find as much anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany because of their recent economic successes, and was expecting to find more cases of extremism in Spain because of their high youth unemployment (and assumedly high nationalist sentiment). Initially I was a little disappointed by the lack of racism in Spain, but after thinking about the implications of this, I was more curious as to the reason why than upset over a lack of results. After thinking more about my results, I realized the significance of the fact that I was expecting to find racism in Spain and surprised not to find much. This is a testament to the state of racism in soccer today and my own biases that I had going into my project. Another thing which surprised me was how much my research had to do with the themes of the other groups. For example, although my paper was in the “arts and performance” group, I easily could have gone in a slightly different direction and been a part of the identity group. In fact, as all the members of my group solidified what we were focusing on specifically, I realized that my topic did not have that much in common with my colleagues’. This was a bit of a struggle, as I could not ask my group how they were proceeding with every aspect of the project. This struggle was more of a welcome challenged than a roadblock, and instead the primary struggle I had while doing research was the language barrier. I am unable to speak Spanish past “hola” and this was very problematic when trying to interview and communicate with people who did not speak English well.
This project was of personal interest to me because I am a huge fan of soccer and played it for the majority of my life. I was enthused to be able research the beautiful game and one of the most controversial issues surrounding it. Soccer is without a doubt the most popular sport around the world and it has a universal appeal and connecting power. My findings suggest that racism in soccer is an issue that requires a great deal of effort in order to be fixed. Because of soccer’s international importance, the global community should be aware of exactly how large problem racism is. From this project, I learned how outgoing and productive I can be when I am actually passionate about a research topic. I also learned the benefits of working in a group even if each member is working on their own individual project. Having a group to talk to, get support from, and bounce ideas off of was an invaluable resource for this project. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and it was fascinating to learn about the different research topics that everyone studied while on this trip.