[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 13:03 GMT
Can football racism be stopped?
England's Nicky Butt, right, and Ashley Cole, left, duel for the ball with Spanish midfielder Xavi
The Spanish Football Federation faces an official inquiry into the racist abuse directed at England's players during Wednesday's friendly match between Spain and England.

Sections of the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid made monkey noises whenever Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips touched the ball in England's bad-tempered 1-0 defeat.

Britain's sports minister Richard Caborn said: "I will write to my Spanish counterpart to express my outrage. I would like the Spanish FA to condemn the scenes."

He said that he expects Fifa and Uefa to fully investigate the issue.

Has enough been done enough to combat racism in football? What should Fifa and Uefa do?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The global football community has a responsibility to set a clear moral tone on this
Chas Knight, Duxford, UK
This is an opportunity for UEFA to show they are capable of treating all countries' football associations equally. The Spanish team should now be placed under threat of disqualification from the world cup if there is a repeat of this kind of unpleasant foolishness from their supporters. The global football community has a responsibility to set a clear moral tone on this.
Chas Knight, Duxford, UK

Our players showed depth and character in not responding to Spanish jibes. A credit to the themselves, the team and country.
Steven Morris, Dorset

Who cares about a few taunts at a football match? There are far more damaging incidents of racial abuse. Report on those.
John Trehearn, Bahrain

I find it interesting that not one of the Spanish contributors has found it necessary to apologise. Of course singling out black players and making offensive noises is racist. No human being should be forced to endure such appalling treatment, in sport or otherwise. The Spanish should be forced to play their next few matches behind 'closed doors'.
Jonathan, Essex, UK

All these comments from surprised British people makes me smile. What happened during the match is such an isolated incident. Now the British are playing this attitude of "how can that happen in any country?! Thank God we are so non-racist in UK" please be realistic and remember the incidents of April 2003, when black players were booed and subjected to racist comments by their own English supporters in their game against Turkey. Without mentioning all the people that is murdered in UK due to racist issues.
L, London

I am not sure if this was really racism
Jesus, Gran Canaria, Spain
I am not sure if this was really racism. What about all the unfair play showed by the English team beforehand?
Jesus, Gran Canaria, Spain

If the Spanish authorities were told that their Olympic bid will not even be considered until this is stopped, that should have an effect.
John Ette, London, England

I think we should all be proud to be British today, as our football team exercised great restrain and professionalism and personally did not have to take the abuse but still carried on regardless. Pity the Spanish fans are so narrow minded, maybe it was pure fear of being beaten or maybe they had nothing better to do in their very sheltered lives.
John Gearing, St Helens, UK

Uefa should demand the sacking of Luis Aragones. If the Spanish coach can avoid apologising for his own racist remarks, what message does this send to Spanish fans?
Johnny W, Hull, England

The bottom line is: England played badly on Wednesday, despite the millions of pounds the whole team is worth. Regarding the "racism" matter, I reckon we wouldn't be discussing it if England had played decently. It is time to stop blaming somebody else for our own mistakes. Besides we cannot expect the rest of the world to behave the way we would.
Lucas Fabiano, London, England

I would not stand for that were I on the field
Robert, Colorado, USA
Yes, it can be stopped. It's simple: stop football. Until people can act civilised, they shouldn't get what they want. I would not stand for that were I on the field, black, white, opposing team or home notwithstanding. I would not play for such people. But then, there's the money thing, isn't there?
Robert, Colorado, USA

The players should have walked off the pitch. If they don't stand up for themselves then no one else will. It's time they start to fight back. The world has no time for silly bigots.
Tanya, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Something should have been done at the time, like stopping the game. But I guess the money the match was generating was more important at the time.
James Murphy, Dorset, UK

I haven't heard any mention of the 'Ole' chants while Spain was running rings around the England players. The dominance of Spain in the first half was very very clear. The England tackling was shameful. The chants against all the England players was a reaction to that.
Brian, Spain

Spain should be made to play all their games behind closed doors. If the England fans had racially abused the Spanish footballers, Fifa would come down on us like a ton of bricks.
Ed, Bedford, UK

Should I just condemn all English for what they do in Mallorca, Ibiza, Costa del Sol, or Costa Brava every year?
Daniel, Madrid, Spain
I am Spanish and I believe that it is a little bit too much to condemn all Spanish for the actions of a group of Ultras. It is a matter of fact that Ultras do also exist in England. And, what about all those hooligans that come to Spain every year and get drunk? My first contact with the English was in Costa Brava. I was only 14 and was kicked and hit with a stick when I passed a group of totally drunk English guys with football shirts. It is not that I hate the English since then, I even spent five year living in London and loved it. Should I just condemn all English for what they do in Mallorca, Ibiza, Costa del Sol, or Costa Brava every year? I guess we all agree that the answer is no. Having said that, please do not take this incident far beyond from its real issue. Face the fact that some of you may just be upset that, having an excellent team, you lost the match.
Daniel, Madrid, Spain

Racism in any shape or form is vile and insidious and has to be nipped in the bud. Racist abuse should be stamped out decisively at all sporting events. Fifa and Uefa should ban all convicted racists from all football matches throughout the world and their names should be put in a special register. Players who use racist expletives should also be excluded from matches. A very tough stance is crucial.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

Fining the Spanish FA will have no effect whatsoever! I think they should be warned that any further treatment like that will result in disqualification from the next World Cup. Perhaps then the fans would think before they open their mouths!
Stuart, Essex, UK

I think Sven should have taken the players off the field and refused to continue as it was a "friendly" so the match outcome unimportant. No human being should have to put up with that sort of thing. FIFA and UEFA should give Spain one more chance and if the abuse is repeated they should be banned from international competition. Had it been England fans I expect this would already be happening
Jules, Brighton

Should have voted with their feet and walked off, the whole England team. That would have sent a very positive message ,on how the England team feels about Racism in European football, to FIFA.
Gaz, Cov, West Mids

These bigots use the anonymity of the footie crowd to hide their face
Garret Lee, Manchester

Football as a sport can only do so much, this bigotry, although only a minority, exists within society as a whole these bigots use the anonymity of the footie crowd to hide their faces and express their sick hatreds, the best way to expose them is for the rest of the crowd to move away from them pointing so the police can see who they are. Then perhaps we can die them green or something so we all know what they are and see how they like being discriminated against?
Garret Lee, Manchester, England

I would like to see a huge amount more done about racism not only in football but in every walk of life! I don't think that what colour, race of which belief you follow should affect you in any situation let alone that of a friendly football match between two countries in Europe or for that matter the rest of the world!
Tom Morgan, Bristol, England

David Beckham as captain of the England team had a chance to make a statement by withdrawing his men from the pitch. This would have sent a very clear message to the Spanish bigots and any other group contemplating this in the future. Unfortunately, he and the entire team missed this rare opportunity. We can only hope Madrid withdraws its bid to host the 2012 Olympics or any other event that involves participation from people outside Spain.
Emeka Enechi, Manchester, England.

This is a sad reflection of the missing link at all major sporting events - that between the pitch and the crowd. It's the same issue as disputed refereeing decisions. Rugby has improved the understanding of the TV viewer by relaying the referees comments - if the ref would have been able to communicate in this way with the stadium, he could have dealt with the issue far more effectively, instead of everyone in the ground trying to pretend it wasn't happening.
Michael, Evesham, UK

Okay, I'm not going to be popular for this, but I don't think it was racism. It was taunting. That's what football fans do to players of opposing teams. Childish taunting. And they do it as best they can - just like kids do in the playground. And that is not racism. I'm not condoning it mind you. I think it's very immature. But I have to laugh though at this macho world of football getting in knickers in a twist over what amount to nothing more than name calling. Boo hoo, run to mummy boys!
Joseph, UK

If I was being paid thousands of pounds a week for kicking a bag of wind around, they could call me what they like, I'd have the last laugh on the brain-dead morons who paid good money to come to see me
MC Randall, Worcester, England

Bigotry and racism need to be stamped out and tough swift and meaningful action is the only way to stop it
Danny Morrison, Glasgow

The racist behaviour was sickening as was Wayne Rooney's utterly disgraceful lack of respect to a former England player. However while people may say that this type of behaviour is rare at football grounds in the UK it does still happen! And there is a match taking place just up the road from me on Saturday in Glasgow where not only racist but bigoted behaviour will be on show from people who claim to be fans of Rangers and Celtic. Bigotry and racism need to be stamped out and tough swift and meaningful action is the only way to stop it.
Danny Morrison, Port, Glasgow

Fifa and Uefa should act swiftly, fine the country being racist and make compensation payment from the fine to the player or players targeted. Second offences should be punished with home game having no spectators allowed to attend the match.
Ron Lisett, Hyde England

The team should have walked off. I was incensed. Only the stoppage of the game will put an end to such behaviour. It can't be left up to the authorities after the fact. The players should take the initiative. There was enough comment from them after the match!
Peter Jones, Dolgellau

Racism in football can only be stopped if racism in society as a whole is eradicated.
Max, England

The police should have arrested the fans
Luke Magee, Wales

Such open racism would have resulted in the end of the event in all other arenas. The referee should have stopped the game, the players should have walked off, the VIPs present should have left, the police should have arrested the fans, and the TV companies should have stopped broadcasting. Everyone who listened and did nothing is complicit in the racism. Football has got to stop being the only place where racism and violence is accepted.
Luke Magee, Wales

Clearly not enough is being done in Spain! Banning Spain from the next international competition would soon change the crowd's approach. Unfortunately this wouldn't change the true feelings of the supporters, but it's a start...
Richard, London

Had this been the English fans, you cannot help thinking there would have been all hell to pay. How about a bit of even-handedness by Fifa, condemning this disgrace and banning Spain from the next World Cup?
Nigel, Redhill, UK

It is a fact the game of rugby is one of the most respected and respectable games in the world. On the other hand the game of soccer has dragged itself down into the proverbial gutter where the majority of players and their unruly supporters now represent some of the worst aspects of rotten behaviour in the world.
Bob Mullen, Cleveland UK

How can this be an isolated incident when it happened at the U21 game the night before and was predicted by the media before it happened?
Paul, Swindon

I don't know which sickens me more. The racist chanting or the media who seem to love splashing racism stories over the front pages. If the media didn't over-dramatise these issues, I don't think the problem would be half as bad.
Colin Hammond, Homerton, England

Why do the football authorities only get upset about racist abuse?
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

Why do the football authorities only get upset about racist abuse? What about the full-on 90 minutes in every game of chanting and yelling obscenities at opposing fans, the referee and the players - black or white? Why is it worse to make monkey noises at a player than it is to swear at them? Stamp out all the foul language, racist or otherwise, and maybe then they'd get somewhere.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

I have a number of Spanish friends, and am ashamed to admit the reaction last night did not exactly surprise me. It did, however, disgust me. Spain should be banned from the World Cup. I think Madrid can wave goodbye to the Olympics in 2012 too.
Billy C, Stoke, UK

Football fans reflect society. Until racism is wiped out in general it will always exist in football.
Dan, UK

Racism in football can only be stopped by the majority of decent fans realising that their sport is in jeopardy if it is ignored. Therefore the Spanish FA should fire their coach for his arrogant behaviour and FIFA must act to censure unacceptable behaviour.
Tony, UK

I found this incredible given the number of black players who have played for major Spanish clubs. Surely CCTV can be used to isolate even a few of these people and make an example of them as a deterrent to others.
Paul, London, UK

I was so embarrassed I had to turn the match off
Sarah, Liverpool, UK

I was so embarrassed I had to turn the match off. Had I been an England player I would have refused to play under such a racist atmosphere, it is surely against your human rights to be racially abused at work. The England team should have walked off (However when Rooney cannot show respect to a dead man we should also question the morals of the English. Luckily I am Scottish
Sarah, Liverpool, UK

England were outplayed, deserved to be beaten and sadly, badly undisciplined typified by Wayne Rooney's dangerous petulance. That being said I am disgusted at how the Spanish manager and the Spanish press refuse to acknowledge, indeed seek to excuse, the disgusting behaviour of some Spanish fans. To do so in my opinion, not only compounds the unacceptable but condones it. What will happen? Very little. Too much money and influence involved. It has taken years to change attitudes here - and it still occurs from time to time so we have to be careful about being too self- righteous.
Dave, Reading, Berks

The racist abuse suffered by English players in the game was a disgrace to the civilised world. I have visited Madrid on more than one occasion but have never witnessed anything like it. I hope they will realise the harm they are doing to the reputation of their nation and begin to show more respect to people of all ethnicities.
Lee Hughes, Liverpool, UK

I think that, considering all the publicity that has occurred to date, it was incredible that the Spanish fans felt that they could get away with their actions. There is no place for racism anywhere and so FIFA and UEFA should exercise their powers to ensure that countries are penalised in some way for allowing racism to go unpunished!
Tracey, UK

Unfortunately I would say that no, it can't be stopped
Sam Clarke, Leeds, West Yorks, England

Unfortunately I would say that no, it can't be stopped. There will always be ludicrous idiocy and pure hatred from sections of foreign fans who don't like black players. I would also like to bring up the point of, if these were English fans been racist, UEFA and FIFA would already be weighing down on us very heavily as is there biased against our countries national team.
Sam Clarke, Leeds, West Yorks, England

It took me a few minutes to be horrified while watching the game, because I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. Do the Spanish realize how squalid and provincial this makes them look to other nations.
Adrian, London, UK

The chants on Tuesday night's match were going on throughout the entire game. Why not just see where they are coming from, get some video evidence and then have the stewards and security remove them from the stadium and ban them the same way hooligans are dealt with? They had 90 minutes to do this!
Ray, Nottingham, UK

The referee should have stopped last night's match
Julia, UK

The referee should have stopped last night's match. Racism should not be tolerated and the 'fans' should have been treated accordingly.
Julia, UK

There is no doubt that something needs to be done. But, in the meantime, can we please just ignore the racists who spoil football matches, rather than spoiling the game further by constantly commenting on it, BBC? We should of course denounce racism - do it when the chants start, but not afterwards!
Andrew K, Bracknell, UK

This isn't just the Spanish's problem - English fans (and some players) have a reputation for yobbish and unacceptable behaviour. I'm afraid we reap what we sow.
Havelock, Brighton, UK

I'm not sure that making noises, even monkey noises, is racism. Abuse, yes. But worse than other rude chanting and verbal abuse hurled at players of all creeds? Not really.
Sue, UK

Given the lack of moral leadership being shown is it any surprise
Jamie, London UK

Given the lack of moral leadership being shown is it any surprise that he fans behave in this way, there seems to be no sanction on this kind of behaviour and they assume that they will get away with it. Similar scenes have been found in Eastern Europe and Turkey and little is done beyond slap on the wrist fines. It seems that FIFA and UEFA have one rule for the rest of the world and another for England.
Jamie, London UK

Cast your mind back 20 years ago in England, when bananas were thrown at John Barnes by his own supporters. I'm sure the majority of Spanish people are not racist, I believe that the Spanish FA simply have to go through the same process that stopped racist minority in England (lets not forget, just because there are no racist chants in UK football grounds, does not mean that people are not racist!!).
Kishoor Patel, Bolton

After having lived in Spain for fifteen years I can honestly say that the majority of the Spanish population really do not know what racism or xenophobia is about.
Anon, Seville, Spain

The manager of the England team should have pulled the team off as soon as the crowd started misbehaving. Inquiries and letters after the event seem to be pointless. Stop the match and make the point.
Sally, Bromley Kent

While football is played, and watched, by thugs this will always be a problem. Perhaps football should take some lessons from rugby which is a true family sport where fans are always mixed together in peace.
Stephen, Cardiff

They should threaten to suspend the Spanish team from competition
Matt, Notts, UK

They should threaten to suspend the Spanish team from competition unless this behaviour is stopped immediately. That's exactly what they did to the English team when a minority of hooligans caused trouble. Having said that, what do you expect when the Spanish boss has set such a bad example.
Matt, Notts, UK

I'm appalled at the racist chants. Thankfully in the UK it is rare to hear it at matches - but no doubt FIFA & UEFA will do very little & be spineless as usual
Tel, London

I thought that enough was being done, but, judging by recent events in Spain, I was wrong.
Adrian Walker, Worthing England




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific