We interviewed Welsh Premier League footballer Cortez about racism in Welsh Football.
Cotez Belle is a former Merthyr Town FC and Newport County FC player who is now playing for Carmarthen Town FC in the Welsh Premier League. In recent years he has played for Llanelli FC and Port Talbot Town FC in the WPL.
Q1. Have you experienced racism in football in Wales? If so can you explain what happened and if anything was done about it?
CB: Unfortunately I have during my time playing in the Welsh Premier League, but I haven't experienced it now for a number of years. It was during my first spell in the league playing for Llanelli. It was during an away fixture and was actually on my debut for Llanelli. I had a banana thrown at me and I actually picked it up and ate it, I have always used instances like that to further inspire me. I have also experienced racism while playing in England.
Q2. Do you think that racism is still an ongoing issue in football and in Welsh football?
CB: Certainly it does still go on and if I am honest I believe that it is something that will never be eradicated, not only from football in Wales but football all around the world and sport itself.
Q3. What more can clubs and the football associations do to help challenge racism both on and off the pitch?
CB: You cannot do any more than to educate footballers, fans and all those involved in football. You will always have the small minority that will, regardless of all the work being done who look to continue doing it.
With regards to FIFA and UEFA, I believe that they would need to take a long hard look at how they punish the fans, clubs and countries who continue to display racist behaviour.
I personally believe that both FIFA and UEFA take a very lenient stance when it comes to handing out punishment, fines and suspensions. Although I as mentioned there will always be a minority who take it upon themselves to carry out racism and by being far sterner FIFA and UEFA will send a stronger message. By all means I am not saying that the governing bodies are for racism, but the manner in which they have handled recent incidents, highlights for me how they can look to send out a message that "racism will not be tolerated"
Q4. Is there anything that players can do to help stop racism?
CB: It’s hard to say what a player should do because if a player makes a stand against racism they are punished. I speak in respect to players walking off the pitch when there are racist chants and noises being made. I would walk of the pitch if I was ever in that situation, and would also like to think my team mates would support me.
Though we have governing bodies saying players are in the wrong for doing such things and would possibly face sanctions for such actions. As a player I would never condone racism, would make anyone aware if I ever heard it and most certainly would never turn a blind eye to it. If I was to make a match official aware that I was subject to it, or know that they had heard what I was subject to and they did not support me or report it it would make me very disappointed and they would not be doing their job correct. Ultimately players need to show fans that they are against all forms of racism.
Q5. What do you think should be done with fans that are found guilty of being racist?
CB: They should receive a ban from attending all sporting events, not just football.
Q6. Do clubs have a responsibility to deal with their fans and should they be punished if they fail to do so?
CB: Unfortunately this is something that is a very grey area and also punishes a huge majority for the actions of the minority. I do believe that a football club and national team do have to take responsibility for the actions of their fans. If you are doing the right things I believe that other fans will be quick enough to highlight those who are responsible and then you can ensure that they are then dealt with. But you require governing bodies to hand out bans to fans on a whole for them to then realize they need to take it upon themselves to highlight those who are responsible, instead of turning a blind eye.
Q7. What do you think should happen with players found guilty of being racist?
CB: I don't think that this should differ to the punishment that a fan should receive. I would look to hand out a life time ban and would also send out a stronger message to fans. No one is exempt when it comes to racism.
Q8. What would you do if you received racism during a game? What would you do during and after the game?
If I received racism from the fans and if it was loud enough for the ref and other players to hear I would walk of the pitch and would like to think that my fellow professionals would support this. If only I heard it I would take it upon myself to make the ref aware and look to have that individual removed from the ground.
With regard to racism from other players, it is similar to the above answer, though I would be disappointed more receiving it from a fellow player, given all that is currently going on with campaigns such as SRtRC that involves players.
Q9.Do you have any advice for anyone experiencing racism?
CB: It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends on the level and type of racism you are receiving. I am not condoning it by any means but it is something that in sport can be used as great motivation for some.
I would tell them to never standby and except it and also never allow it to affect what they are doing in a negative way. Whenever I have experienced racism it has been because how well I have been doing at that particular time and people seeing that as the easy way to get to me. Only once have I ever let it get to me, where I was sent off for reacting to racism, which I do and don't regret for various reasons. It is something that we all need to rise above while also never turning a blind eye to.
Q10. Do you think that players of all ages should be educated about what racism is along with the consequences of being racist and how to deal with and report racism?
CB: Players and fans of all ages should be educated and you should not put any restrictions on this.
Q11. How important do you think show racisms the red cards work with educating young people about racism through the medium of sport / football is?
CB: The work "Show Racism The Red Card" is doing is very important and it is great to see that it is continually improving and growing.
Q12. Any final messages?
CB: Things are getting better and progressively will, but we will always experience racism not only football but in sport.