What’s this all about then? Ethics in football – Discrimination

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Image 01: Kick it Out Campaign Flag

Being asked to discuss only one ethical issue of social media in education or business meant I had to prioritise one issue – discrimination.

Football, how is that business or education related?

The business world and the sporting world are growing ever-more intertwined. The premier league recently signed a deal for television rights worth more than £5 billion (BBC, 2015) and with the cost of squads exceeding £600 million (CIES Football Observatory, 2016) it is evident that football is not only a business, it’s big business.

Eva Carneiro – A case study

Eva Carneiro was famously the first team doctor at Chelsea FC for over 6 years between 2009-2015. Bizarrely, in the world of professional male sport, she was female. Throughout her time at the club she was subject to sexist chanting from the crowds (FootballExpressNews, 2015). Discrimination against Eva, hit the headlines in 2015 when the firt team coach was alledged to have called her ‘filha da puta’ – Portuguese for ‘daughter of a whore‘ during a game. Soon after this incident she lost her job and a claim of constructive dismissal was made and she then began to recieve a number of death threats online (The Guardian, 2016) via twitter. This case is probably the most high profile case of sexism, a form a discrimination that the beautiful game has faced to date.


Homophobia in football has been an issue raised for a number of years, and the fact that no professional footballers in the UK are ‘out’ speaks volumes about the levels of fear of abuse that would be received if players were to reveal their homosexuality. These fears, may not be as irrational as some may think. This year, Premier League footballer Andre Gray received a 4 match band for homophobic tweets made in 2012.

Image 02: Andre Gray homophobic tweet. 



If footballers are found to be showing prejudices and discriminating on social media, one can imagine that fans, unfortunately, are too. Some people may argue that Andre Gray has a right to free speech and that although his views may be an ethical nightmare, he is nonetheless entitled to have them. A point that is discussed in the Guardian, (Guardian, 2014).


This Video highlights the issue of racism from fans.

In 2014, KickItOut conducted a survey of 200 professional footballers, In the video below I show 4 of the key findings.

These findings concur with those of the Telegraph too, (Telegraph, 2016)


It seems as if discrimination is rife in football still to this day despite wider society becoming more accepting of different races and sexual orientations. Perhaps the business of football, is lagging behind.

WordCount 412


Football Observatory (2016), Manchester United Breaks Record For Costliest Squad, Available at http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/b5wp/2016/159/en/ [Accessed 25/11/16]

The Guardian (2014), Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger Editorial, Available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/24/twitter-abuse-abusive-tweets-editorial?CMP=twt_gu [Accessed 23/11/16]

Jack, S. (2015), Premier League in Record £5.14bn TV Rights Deal, Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31379128 [Accessed 26/11/16]

Press Association (2016), Eva Carneiro reveals she received death threats after chelsea departure, Available at https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/nov/25/eva-carneiro-chelsea-sexism-football [Accessed 26/11/16]

Writer, S. (2015), Chelsea warn fans over ‘sexist’ Eva Carneiro chants, Available at http://www.footballexpressnews.com/11247/chelsea-warn-fans-over-eva-carneiro-sexist-chants/# [Accessed 25/11/16]

Media References:

Image 01- KickItOut Flag, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/09/06/discrimination-in-football-rose-during-201516-season-kick-it-out/ [26/11/16]

Image 02- Andre Gray, Twitter accessed via the daily mail at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3804452/Burnley-striker-Andre-Gray-suspended-four-matches-fined-25-000-homophobic-comments-social-media-dating-2012.html [Accessed 26/11/16]

Video 01- KlickItOut Campaign, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlg23USZwzQ [Accessed 25/11/16]

Video 02- Cohen, Z. Created using Powtoon available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68OYgdFR8Do [Created by me 26/11/16]





17 thoughts on “What’s this all about then? Ethics in football – Discrimination

  1. Hi Zach,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your approach to the topic this week. It was informative backed with facts, included a case study and was based on a unique topic which tied in nicely with answering the question of social ethical issues.

    I agree that discrimination is a serious issue that arises with social media as with cyber-bullying being extremely widespread. I found the ‘#KlickItOut’ video gripping and a great way to raise awareness on the issue and perhaps, if someone writing hateful comments, to get them to stop. You’ve given factual information and awareness in your blog but not any solutions to the actual issue. What are some of the key actions you believe should be taken in order to resolve discrimination in football?

    Overall, the layout of your blog is very well presented, I appreciate the sub-headings and break down of the post to answer the question set.



    1. Hi Davina,

      I thought I’d try something new this week and apply the topic to something I enjoy – football. I appreciate the fact you noticed the subheadings, I thought they’d make the blog post easier to read.

      You point out that I don’t provide any solutions to the issue I raise, which is completely true. Although If I had a solution to ending discrimination in football, or social media, I think I’d be fast-tracked into a job at the government designing social policy! In all seriousness, I believe that society as a whole is moving towards a more accepting way of life, and legislation making many forms of discrimination illegal, will filter into the world of football gradually. I’d say the issue of racism is becoming less of an issue today. Black players were once subject to racism at almost every match. The fact it makes headlines today shows its relative rarity.

      From within the football world, the F.A (Football Association) have taken a harsh stance on issues such as racism and homophobia. Andre Gray – the footballer who posted homophobic tweets, received a 4 match ban and a fine of several thousands of pounds. So in full answer to your question, I’d say the only solution is time.

      Thanks for commenting on my post.



      1. Hi Zac,

        I know it was a joke but you everyone has some sort of solution, whether it be effectively implemented is another matter entirely 😉 Thank you for linking the article on twitter to me. I like the fact your topic is relevant in the news at the moment and has spurred me on follow peoples links in the aforementioned article.

        With regards to FA stance, which you suggest is ‘harsh’, do you think that a ‘fine of several thousands’ is actually harsh considering the amount of money footballers earn, or instead can it be resembled to a parking fine to a normal individual?

        I personally believe that extensive match bans are the only way to reduce racism and homophobia in football. Alternatively you could make the club liable for their players’ actions and use points deduction? Food for thought anyways! Look forwards to hearing yours and Davina’s responses!


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Alex, I like the point you make about a large fine being less significant to somebody who earns more, but someone’s income shouldn’t effect a punishment I believe. The crime/infringement is the issue that needs to be addressed and I fail to see the merits of a large fine. It seems like a revenue raising idea from the F.A. I think forcing the player to attend educational courses would perhaps be a better solution for all concerned. Do you agree? That said, banning/fining somebody for expressing an opinion regardless of how unethical it may appear to you or I does cross the whole ‘free speech’ idea, and I’m sure punishments like that to Andre Gray wouldn’t be met with as much praise in the USA where ‘free speech’ is an integral belief in their society. On 28/11/16 darts player Eric Bristow was sacked after his controversial/homophobic comments on twitter. Tell me what you think about it? http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/darts/38141331


      3. Hi zac,

        Before you read this, know that I do not endorse racial or any other type of hatred and am merely probing for intellectual responses surrounding a controversial topic.

        I agree that an individual shouldn’t be punished for their action in football as the consequence is menial. I believe that targeting the club who employs them is a more radical and effective method. Free speech is a questionable topic in itself as most western countries, specifically the UK and the USA which you refer to, have laws on the inability of an individual to incite racial hatred. I think that the dismissal of Eric Barlow is more a reaction of sky to make it clear to their viewers that they do not endorse the actions of Mr Barlow as opposed to them disagreeing with him.

        We live in a world where people are easily offended on social media, where the keyboard ‘warrior’ runs riot surrounding topics such as race, gender equality and other controversial subjects. It is easier to get away with controversial comments when you are not representing someone else (Barlow with sky, or a footballer with their club).
        These bodies are well aware of the headache that keyboard ‘warriors’ can cause, regardless of whether the original post was meant in a certain way or taken out of context. But as with everything, the line has to be drawn somewhere, and each company/club has their predrawn line which they have to act on if anyone crosses.

        Thoughts and Feelings?



      4. Hi Alex,
        I suppose punishing the club may have a more drastic effect. If clubs were to face punishments rather than the player directly, the club would take the issue more seriously and hopefully that would filter into the fans and players, be that on the terraces or on twitter.
        It does beg the question is it fair? Andre Gray at no point said his views were representative of his club. Conversely, I do see that he is a representative of Burnley FC merely by being on their pay-roll/being a public figure.
        I think our debate here, is indicative of the nature of the problem itself, no easy solutions can be found.
        Would you say Burnley are responsible in anyway for Andre Gray’s tweets? If not, I still fail to see why they should be punished. To add some background, he didn’t even play for Burnley at the time of his tweet yet arguably Burnley were punished by his tweets with the 4-game ban.


  2. Hi Zac,

    A great post, loved the animations and clear information on the PowToon – a great website I too have just discovered from this module!

    I think it’s great you chose to talk about a topic you’re passionate about. The world of professional sport can be very discriminatory and intimidating for “minorities”, you mentioning there being no openly gay footballers reminded me of a particular case. Legendary Welsh Rugby fullback Gareth Thomas had a very tough time dealing with his sexuality while playing international sport, see the article below for how homophobia (or a fear of it) can be linked to other sports.


    The argument for free speech is fascinating, but I believe online abuse cannot be tolerated. Should the line perhaps be drawn when it becomes a personal attack over the internet? As the video points out most people would refrain from abusing someone to their face.

    Word Count 150.


    1. Hi Arthur, I considered writing about the Gareth Thomas case too. I think it’s great that he has come out and the publics response has been great from my understanding, perhaps the fear of abuse about someone’s sexuality is greater than the actual backlash they’d get. I suppose in the world of football at least, we won’t know until somebody is brave enough to ‘come out’ publicly whilst playing. For me personally, the idea of free speech is important. I obviously don’t condone personal attacks on social media but making those illegal or punishable is a problem because a personal attack is subjective.


      1. Hi Zac,

        Very true about the personal attack, I cannot think of a way in which it could be objectively measured, so perhaps the problem will ensue until an adequate measurement is devised.

        I believe it is a greater sense of fear than would actually be the case, but I can totally understand the stress an individual would feel in the circumstance, it must be very difficult. I think that sporting communities are in fact very supporting to each other, as you correctly point out in the case of Gareth Thomas. This is also evident in the recent tragedy of the Chapecoense football team who’s plane crashed on the way to a final. The support they have received online from football clubs globally has been overwhelming, while local Brazilian teams have offered incredible gestures such as free loaning of players, and suggesting they avoid relegation for 3 years due to the tragedy.

        I would be interested to know if you think a footballer will “come out” in the near future? Currently no professional rugby union players are openly homosexual, however I understand that an American football player is.


  3. I would not say that Burnley are responsible, but if they were punished they as a employer are more likely to take action on their employee, an action which is more likely to have an effect than a ‘measly’ (subjective) fine?

    Its more a matter of greatest repercussion resulting in change than it is individually punishing. If the FA were to ban a player for the rest of the season for comments, it would means clubs would take more control over players and they themselves would feel more responsibility for their actions?


    1. I’d say if clubs were to face punishments, it would lead to them banning all their players from using social media to eliminate the chance of players posting discriminating material online. If clubs did ban players from using twitter for example, wouldn’t we all be worse off? Players would lose their freedom and we, as fans, see less of our heroes. Not sure if you agree?


  4. Hi Zach,

    As a football fan myself and experiencing this world and how ‘banter’ can go to far on the terraces I was interested in what you had to say.

    You talk a lot about the issues of football and all of these are true. But I want to know is how you think these can be solved. Things like kick it out identify the problem but don’t really identify many ways to fix it. I know the nature of football means its hard to fix but would it be worth doing things like stadium bans for racist chanting to try and crack down and make fans think before making a racist, sexist or discriminative chant?



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