October is Black history month when we celebrate the richness of the contributions of black people in society and here in Bolton we have a whole variety of activities that recognises the diversity of our communities. In-spite of all this good work we still have a long way to go.
The colours usually associated with football are the colours of the different teams which feature on their shirts, however skin colour also plays a large role in the game. Racism has sadly been a part of football for many years.
We have come along way since the 1970’s, but we know that racism can still be found in the game and black players are not always treated the same as their white counterparts.
It is a fact that since 1990 only one in four retired England international footballers have been black or from an ethnic minority background (BAME). Sadly many black players still have to put up with racism on the pitch. In November 2018 there was an 11% rise in reported discriminatory abuse at football matches compared with the previous season.
Many people argue that because racism is still present in society it cannot be separated from football which reflects society. However, we still need to do all we can to eradicate this from our society starting with our children. Schools teach young people about inclusion in sports and through the work of our Community Trust we often use football as a way of bringing children of all ethnicities together and breaking down those barriers. Within Bolton, we pride ourselves about recognising the rich diversity of the Bolton Family and celebrating that diversity.
Today there are many initiatives to try and prevent racism from being a part of football. Kick It Out was established over 25 years ago and has been key in challenging discrimination and encourage inclusion in football. Show Racism the Red Card is another organisation that we work within the Community Trust working in schools. They provide educational workshops and training sessions with the purpose of tackling racism and wider discrimination in both football and society.
Race should never be an impediment to the careers of young black players and they should be allowed to focus on the game rather than having to worry about racist chants and comments from fans.
We do not tolerate discrimination of any sort here at Bolton Wanderers and would want to encourage you report and racist or discriminatory behaviour to a steward or by using the Kick it out app.
Football has come a long way since the “70s but perhaps we all need to realise the only goal is to win and enjoy the sport, irrespective of colour.