Stopping Racist Chants



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Liz Waid and Mike Procter look at a common problem in football games - and an unusual solution!

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Transcript


Voice 1

Thank you for joining us for today’s Spotlight program. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Mike Procter. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

In November, 2004, Spanish and English football teams competed in a friendly in Madrid, Spain. The English team included a few black men. At one point during the game, some Spanish team supporters began to make noises toward the black players. They made noises like monkeys. Monkeys are animals that look a little bit like people. The crowd chanted and shouted other racist insults at the English team. The Football Association and International Football governing groups investigated the incident. Leaders in both countries spoke against the actions of the supporters.

Voice 2

It is sad that this kind of behaviour happens often. These kinds of incidents are common. Groups of people chant insults about a player’s race, religion, country, or who they are. And it has a bigger effect than many people understand.

Voice 1

Chanting, repeating shouted words, is often very popular at many kinds of sports games. A large group of people shouts messages together. These messages can encourage the players. Crowds shout ‘go team go!’ or other encouraging things. Some teams even have special chants that supporters all know. These chants help to build excitement in a crowd. But, as you have probably experienced, crowds can also chant terrible things.

Voice 2

Football is a popular sport all around the world. Every year, millions of people come together to watch football games. Many people know every rule of the game. Many have a favourite team, or even a favourite team member. They want to support their favourite team or player with chants.

Voice 1

Many times, the people and feeling of a game can become very tense. A small group of people may begin chanting. People around them join the chant. But what happens when these chants are racist? Even people who do not agree with racist ideas may join the chanting. It is easy to get involved with a large crowd of people. A person may just want to ‘follow the crowd’ and be like everyone else.

Voice 2

But racist chanting can be harmful for players, supporters, and other people listening to or watching a sports game. It encourages bad opinions and bad behaviour. It influences younger people at the game. It influences opinions in the community.

Voice 1

Sports governing groups try to control bad things that happen between players. They may ban a player for saying racist things. They will not let him play anymore. They may even make the team pay an amount of money. Or they may ban a whole team from playing the sport.

Voice 2

But it is much harder to punish crowds of people - even when they are clearly doing bad things. Sports governing groups try to stop supporters who are chanting bad things. But often, they are not able to do much to stop or control the chanting. They may not even know where the chant started.

Voice 1

Racist chanting is a problem all over the world. So, some Dutch researchers are looking for ways to stop, or at least slow, abusive or racist chants. A new method uses sound to confuse people who are chanting abusive or racist words.

Voice 2

Sander van Wiingaarden is a Dutch researcher. He researches how sounds affect the human brain. He saw how racist chants affected Dutch football games. So, in 2004, Sander began working on a project to neutralize these racist chants. He wanted them to lose their power.

Voice 1

The system would record a crowd’s racist chanting. Then it would play the recording back to the crowd with a small delay.

Voice 2

Sander explains how his system works:

Voice 3

“We knew that people become confused if you feed their speech back with a delay. So we wanted to try and make it work in a group situation. People chanting get information from several different places, but at the same time. They use these pieces of information to be able to chant in time with other people. This can be very complex because there are large numbers of people involved.”

Voice 1

Sander and other researchers developed an early form of their system. A group of men volunteered to help them test it.

Researchers surrounded the men with loudspeakers. The loudspeakers played a recording of a crowd chanting at a sports game. Researchers told the men to join the chanting crowd. But one loudspeaker was different than all the others. The loudspeaker was also playing the recording of the chanting crowd. But, the recording was delayed by a short amount of time.

Voice 2

The researchers found that this was an effective way to confuse the men. The men could not follow the chant when one loudspeaker played a little behind the others. This method worked when the chanting was delayed by as little as 200 milliseconds. But it had the biggest effect when the chanting was delayed to one second behind the other chanting.

Voice 1

Sander says that bringing the technology to real sports stadiums can be effective. But it may not be very simple. Loudspeakers at many stadiums are not complex or strong enough. Sander’s system also requires special microphone recording devices. Stadiums would need to put in new sound equipment.

Voice 2

And Sander has concerns about how crowds might react to the new device. He thinks that some crowds may begin racist chants on purpose just to see how the system works. This may mean that more racist chants happen at football games. Or, Sander explains, crowds might react very badly to the new system.

Voice 1

Many people become personally involved in sports. Sander says that people who become confused while chanting could also become very angry. Then, they could express their anger in very bad ways. Sander explains:

Voice 3

“If you make a crowd angry, by making it impossible to chant, you need to be very careful how you direct their anger. If they stop chanting but start rioting because they are angry, then you are worse off.”

Voice 2

But Sander will continue working on his idea. He knows that the problem of racist chanting is too big and too important to forget about. International Football Association President Sepp Blatter agrees. He says:

Voice 4

“There is no room whatsoever for racism or discrimination in our sport. Instead, football is a tool for building bridges and encouraging tolerance.”

Voice 1

Every person can work to be more accepting and tolerant of other people. Think about what can you do to stop racist chanting at sports games you attend.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. Computer users can hear our programs, read our scripts, and see our word list on our website at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Stopping Racist Chants.”

Voice 1

What are your opinions about racist chanting at sports games? Do you think Sander’s device will be effective? What are effective punishments for people who show racism in sport? e-mail us your opinions at radio@radioenglish.net. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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Question:

Have you ever heard racist chanting at football games or other times? Did you join in? Why or why not?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Lan Can
said on July 17, 2019

In the match between Dutch and Belgium team in France 1998, Kluivert, a Dutch famous attacker was received a red card from the refugee because he had bad action with a competition. After the match, he said he had did that because that player had shouted his sister to be a black b*ch.
Kluivert was wrong but he was a victim of racism, an unacceptable thing not only in sports, in life, so well.

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kenhieuloilam
said on July 18, 2019

Sports require a lot of effort to succeed and there are interestingness and ‘harshness’ in sports. Win brings us honour and great joy. Many elements contribute to success in sports and cheer can contribute to success in sports. We win today and we may lose next time. We come to sport with spirit of sport, fair play. We love beautiful good things, everyone and life. Cheer will not be cheer if we do not respect sport and everyone. Sport will not be sport if we do not respect sport and everyone. Sports require a lot of effort to succeed and there are interestingness and harshness in sports. Win brings us honour and great joy. We build for beautiful good things. We build for peace.

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Honneur
said on July 23, 2019

Some people threw things into the soccer fields, trying to hit the players. The Brazilian Football Confederation almost eliminated this practice, punishing the stadium’s own team as long as it did not identify and arrest the perpetrator or perpetrators of the aggression. Doing something like that, the teams whose fans sing racist chants will probably minimize the problem.