We’ll not comment on the recent developments in football: one Premier League player suspended for eight matches after being found guilty of racist remarks to an opposing player, one facing a criminal charge, and another apparently being racially abused by a spectator. But there’s no doubt that racism has been a problem in sport, and continues to be so. Athletes, administrators, commentators, spectators – any can be responsible for racist views, language and actions.
In the past racism in sport went well beyond name-calling. US baseball operated a de facto ban on black players till as late as 1946. It was sometimes described as a gentlemen’s agreement, and this was not an ironic use of ‘gentleman’. In apartheid-era South Africa, rugby union was essentially a game for Afrikaners, while football was the game played by the black population.