The study was conducted by the Danish research firm RunRepeat in collaboration with PFA (the association of football players in the United Kingdom).
The Danish study looked closely at 80 football matches in the top divisions in England, Italy, Spain and France. They analyzed 2073 statements from broadcasters in countries such as England, the United States and Canada.
– To face the real impact of structural racism, we must acknowledge and address racial biases. This study shows a clear bias in how we describe the skills of football players based on their complexion, says Jason Lee of PFA.
Mention of intelligence
One of the main findings is about the way European football commentators refer to players’ intelligence. When a player is praised for his intelligence, the white football players fall in 63 percent of cases, the study claimed. On the other hand, 63 percent of the criticism of players’ intelligence was directed at dark-skinned players.
– Commentators help shape our perception of each player, Lee says.
The findings also say that commentators were about seven times more likely to talk about a dark-skinned player in terms of strength, and three times more likely to describe a dark player as fast.
At the same time, the survey showed that when commentators talked about work ethic, 60.4 percent of the boasts were straight to those with a lighter skin tone.
PFA wants media organizations to provide training on unconscious racial biases to their employees.
– When you play football, and someone paints a picture of you as powerful, fast and aggressive, saying that it is a good trait to have – but at the same time saying that you are not diligent, intelligent and creative, it is not the right terminology to use, says Lee.
– If you continue to stigmatize people this way, how should this athlete go from the football field to be taken seriously as a coach, manager or in a different position of power? Lee asks.