Football and society as a whole deal with cases of racism every single day. If you don’t believe racism exists in one form or another in every society known to us, then I would suggest from stop reading it here, because it will not be very pleasant for you. In this article I will look at what we are doing to battle racism and what I think is a very important framework to understand racism in scouting.
This post will be written from the POV of myself, as I’m a person of colour, but obviously this applies to different layers of racism all over the world.
Black Lives Matter, Black pride, and activism
Every time a new campaign is launched on beating racism or awareness surrounding black consciousness, there is a lot whataboutism or whataboutery going on — diminishing the fact that the sole reason is talking about a problem in society.
This angers me. So this is me expressing my opinion that has been fueled by the injustice I and so many others have experienced — which in my own case have led to mental health issues.
What really makes me angry is that the people that either keep institutional racism in place or have built that institutional racism — are deciding/debating what’s racism or not for the ones that suffer from the racism. Why the need to always undermine? Why not listen to the people who are dealing with a very real problem?
Tackling social injustice and racism, in particular, is not just posting a black tile on Instagram or saying that you have many friends who are black or coloured. Train yourself what it means when you post something on racism (& other social injustices). Are you educating yourself? Are you re-training your brain? Are you actively engaging in a movement towards a better society? Are you fighting against it? Are you challenging lawmakers? These are questions that will start a movement that will lead into developments, social revoltion and progress.
It’s not enough to be against racism or judge it, but you really have to be anti-racism. Everything that is related to racism is something you should loath.
It’s not only about anti-racism, but it’s also about pride. What does it mean to be proud to be black? What does this actually mean to me? What does this mean in relation to white people? Being proud of my heritage has nothing to do with my perception of white people and I don’t feel the need to create hatred. Far from it.
I often feel that this pride is misunderstood for black supremacy and that’s not what it’s about. I think it’s important to stress that white people are not directly responsible or can be held accountable for the actions of their ancestors, but they do have a responsibility to change the social, legal, and economical structure that holds the inequality in place.
It’s also about the admission of historic guilt. Whether people are conscious about it or not, the dynamics between different races are uneven. The reason why black people are voicing that they are proud of heritage, culture, and shared collective memory, is because we were trained otherwise by oppressors, government institutions, and society.
Several influential black people have said the following: “Black people have no knowledge of themselves” — and that’s what it’s about. Gaining access to our history. Exploring ourselves. Discovering languages, traditions, and ideals.
How can you know your worth if you don’t completely know what your identity is? Your self-determined worth is what makes you figure out your place in society.
We have been brought up with white ideals, morals, and standards. This is wrong in my opinion as they should have been taught about the country we live in ánd our own history. Education is so important and you should tell the whole story.
To say that you don’t see colour is an inherently racist thing to say because you assume the white man’s idea of normal. It’s should be a human’s idea of normal. Of all humans.
There are cultural differences between people and they are to be celebrated. Every, human, however, is equal and should be given the same respect, duties, rights, and opportunities. The world is full of great cultures and traditions, but respect needs to be there for everyone to thrive. And that’s not the case at the moment.
In my time as being a scout or working in recruitment, I found one thing very uncomfortable yet so present. It’s called racial scouting. There’s a difference between racial scout and racist scout, but I will first look at what racial scouting is. Racial scouting is the idea that a certain race should be the best to fill a certain position or role within a squad and therefore you look only to a certain racial profile.
The idea is that certain physical and mental attributes are being assigned to different races. These negative stereotypes are often found in professional football: “black keepers are never good”, “white people are intelligent”, “black people are stronger, faster and more athletic”.
Now these are just stereotypes, but many profiles at clubs in recruitment will look for some form of this too. There have been directors of football who asked me to look for a winger from African descent as they are faster and more athletic than Western players. The idea that certain races are ‘made’ for certain positions is harmful, even when it might seem as a compliment, it definitely is. Especially, when it tends to transform into the mental aspect as well.
Football scouting is almost solely based on the physical attributes of a player, whether he or she thrives well in a certain aspect of the game, that’s important to most scouts and recruitment analysts. The idea of these physical appearances being dominant is son engrained into football, it’s very difficult to change AND so is the idea that races represent different forms of players, positions, and roles. To fully understand why this is harmful we need to assess what harm this does and where its roots lie. Without knowledge of the core problem, the casual remarks within racial scouting cannot change.
The racism connected to this form of scouting is that of unconscious racism. There is no deliberate decision to think like this – in most cases – and people tend to think this form of recruiting will benefit the whole football industry as a whole.
Racism in scouting
Racism in scouting is a slightly different thing than racial scouting, but it sure is connected to each other. I spoke about the physcial attributes of players of certain of background, that is valued by those in charge. The idea that your ethnic background is a defining aspect of your ability to play elite football is very wrong.
If we take it one step further and go beyond the physical attributes, we tend to took at the mental attributes of players. And this is where conscious racism comes into play. In this type of scouting scouts and recruitment analyst look to the sort of mental attributes they don’t want – they exclude certain player because of how they act. What I’ve seen a lot is that North-African players are excluded from scouting list, because they are lazy and tough to handle. Those players need ‘a lot of work’ and are not desirable for those specific scouts.
The racism is very present and it’s a conscious decision to dismiss whole ethnic groups because of mental and physical attributes.
What I’m trying to say is that football is full of these type of treatments, especially in academies. When you are young football is all about having fun and if that fundamental aspect of playing football – or another sport – disappears, well that’s a truly horrible thing.
I don’t have a real conclusion, but again I want to ask you: What do you do to battle against this? What do you do to prevent these things? Are you privileged in some ways and how can you make it a better world?