Saturday, July 20News For London

Women leading the way in fight against racism in football

A new Women’s Super League season kicks off in March. Kait Borsay looks at whether the women’s game has the same issues with racism as its male counterpart, after two incidents of racism from Chelsea fans were reported in just one week.

Reporter: Kait Borsay

Sub-editor: Sonal Gupta

Chelsea fans
Chelsea fans have come under fire recently amidst reports of racist abuse Credit: Ben Sutherland

The women’s game, set to gain more exposure this summer with the Women’s World Cup in Canada, does not suffer at the hands of racism like its male counterpart. Kick it Out, the anti-discrimination body, told Westminster World they “haven’t had any incidents of racism within women or girls football at any level this season.”

In a month where Chelsea fans have seen their first piece of silverware since the return of Jose Mourinho, supporters of the club have been tainted by accusations of racism. Film footage shows Chelsea fans appearing not to let a black man onto a train in Paris after their Champions League game. And then another video surfaced, showing fans of the west London side mocking the events in Pairs on a packed train after the Carling Cup final.

Figures from the Home Office over the last 13 seasons reveal that Chelsea fans have been arrested 27 times for racist or indecent chanting, the most from any club to have played in the top flight over that period.

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The traditional rivalry between WSL teams like Chelsea and Arsenal is not enough to reduce fans of the female game on racism. Credit: joshjdss

Recent interviews with fans of both men’s and women’s football highlight the contrast between the two forms of the game. Chelsea, in particular, comes under fire.

Ken, a Manchester City Women fan, says he’s never heard anything discriminatory in the women’s game, when asked about racism he said:

“There’s nothing like that, it’s such a friendly atmosphere at women’s football… there’s no rivalry, there’s no racism… and no sexism as far as I can see either.”

Craig, a Liverpool fan, says one of the worst instances of racism he witnessed was at Chelsea, against their own player, Didier Drogba. He says he finds it hard to navigate what denotes racism.

“I’m not a racist, myself… I do think people make too much of what people say, sometimes I do feel embarrassed to be white.”

Tasha, a Chelsea fan from London said:

“At Stamford Bridge… you don’t see in the crowd, that many people there that aren’t white, and I think that probably says maybe a lot more even than actual things being said, because there’s nobody, there’s nobody there.”

“The tribalism you get in the men’s game, just isn’t really there in the women’s game… If anything horrible is said people join forces against the horrible stuff… it’s not a mob mentality where people join in and it spirals.”

The women’s game, still fighting hard to be taken seriously amongst many older football fans, is leading the way in the fight against racism. The Women’s Super League has increased in popularity without inheriting any of the bad habits from the men’s game. For once, the tradition and legacy of the men’s game is its downfall.