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ISSN 1466-4356

One rotten apple or a rotten tree: football leaders’ perceptions of racism in European football



Despite efforts by key stakeholders to address racial discrimination in international football, racially charged behaviour persists, particularly in the European context. To explore this phenomenon, our paper employs Critical Race Theory as a central framework and links empirical research to racism and inclusion while keeping institutional football and policy concerns at the forefront of its investigation. Primary questions underlining the study concern practices and actors that enable or sustain exclusionary practices in the football industry. To better understand the nature of racial discourse among football leaders and how it potentially facilitates or acts as a barrier to inclusion in football, qualitative interviews were conducted with leaders from eight European countries. The interviews revealed conflicting tensions in the football industry. Tensions between corporatized football practices and equality policymaking, discrepancies in views on discriminatory actions and their connections to larger structural issues and resistance to change from predominantly White, male leadership.

KEYWORDSFootball; Europe; racism; diversity; inclusion; race


MASHIGO, Palesa; STERKENBURG, Jacco van; HERA, Teresa De la; GONCALVES, Joao Fernando Ferreira. One rotten apple or a rotten tree: football leaders’ perceptions of racism in European football. Ethnic and Racial Studies. London, p. 1-23, 2024.

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