Our Research Assistant Luke Campbell featured on Ramadhan Radio, talking about tackling football violence and combating racism
On Wednesday 15th June, our intern Research Assistant Luke Campbell was a special guest on Radio Ramadhan Glasgow's 'Current Affairs' programme. The radio station (87.7 FM), based out of The Ark in Govanhill, is a community run project that operates through the period of Ramadhan - a time when many Muslims fast during daylight hours. Wednesdays show sought to cover the topics of football hooliganism and violence, with a particular focus on the issues seen at the men's UEFA European Championship currently taking place in France. With his dissertation at the University of Edinburgh having examined the potential for football as a method of engaging Scotland's local communities in issues regarding racism, 'multiculturalism', xenophobia and discrimination, Luke was well placed to speak on the matters covered in this week's show.
The show opened as standard by summarising five stories in the news that day, among them the tragic incident at Disneyland Florida involving the young child that was taken by an alligator, and the bizarre Brexit face off in the River Thames between UKIP Leader Nigel Farage and musician Bob Geldof, before moving on to an in depth discussion of the problems witnessed in France at Euro 2016. Many fans have been arrested, some of whom have been removed from the country by the French authorities, and so discussion opened by considering what measures have been put in place to prevent rioting and other acts of hooliganism such as violence between rival fans and discriminatory chanting. Luke noted the efforts that have taken place thus far including fines, alcohol bans, and suspended expulsion, whilst considering other potential solutions - most notably point deductions, games being played behind closed doors, and further banning orders. Banning orders are currently used by both England and Wales, however Luke noted that a recent 5 Live's Football Daily show noted that many fans had not handed their passports in to authorities by the deadline.
Discussion turned to the increased police presence at the Russian versus Slovakia and England versus Wales matches in Group B, the games took place on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th June respectively. Luke suggested that the increased police presence was a positive measure, noting the lack of security to reinforce the fan segregation at the England - Russia match. During discussions, Luke was keen to stress that football-related violence and hooliganism was not merely an issue faced in England and Russia, noting the high passions and frequent need for police intervention at football games in South American.
For the final segment of the show, Luke answered a series of questions including why so many acts of hooliganism take place at football games, sectarianism in Scottish football, the work and origins of Show Racism the Red Card, and what can be done to combating rising levels of Islamophobia. Luke took this opportunity to stress his belief that football fundamentally is a force for good, a family environment that offers opportunities for people of all genders, religions and ethnicities, both in terms of physical engagement and as a shared point of interest. He then suggested that football fans reflect societal values (both the good and bad) rather than prejudices stemming directly from football. Luke argued that those involved in football coaching at all levels, but particularly adults working with young people, should take part in inclusive education training. In his research, as well as during his own previous football teams, Luke was told of coaches that would shout "last one in is gay" when trying to motivate children to run faster. This, Luke suggests, only serves to pass on prejudices and discriminatory values to younger generations. He highlighted the LGBT+ Teacher Training, the Time for Inclusion Education (TIE) campaign, and LGBT Youth Scotland's Charter Mark as examples of good practice.
Conversation continued with a focus on sectarianism in Scottish football, and particularly the Offensive Behaviour Act, which the Scottish Government implemented in 2012. Luke noted that many fans felt, similarly to when the 'Prevent' legislation was first brought into law, that this ran of the risk of discrimination through profiling - racial or by association to a particular football team. He stressed that the Scottish Government have responded to criticism by highlighting the lack of viable alternatives currently offered. Luke suggested that the forthcoming SPFL season (2016/2017) will be the first time that we can genuinely gauge whether fan behaviour at the Old Firm game, which many people believe was the reason for this legislation being brought forward, is impacted. He stressed that many other football clubs around Scotland, thirty-three in fact, have seen fans arrested, fined, or charged with offences at football games in the most recent season (2015/2016) demonstrating that these problems were in no way limited to the Old Firm.
The conversation concluded with a brief summary of Show Racism the Red Card, its origins in Newcastle, its work in Club Events and Creative Competitions with schools and colleges, as well as regional projects such as the Show Bigotry the Red Card. Luke spoke of the diverse body of work that the organisation conducts, suggesting that the football team posters which feature football players and coaches holding up placards with Show Racism the Red Card’s anti-racism message were a fantastic initiative that served as a constant reminder to young fans of the important work the organisation do, even when that young person is not involved in the other project, adding that he hoped one day these posters could feature both the men’s and women’s teams as this could help diversify the reach of this important message.
The show ended with a brief talk about the upcoming film from Show Racism the Red Card that will seek to educate children and young people about anti Muslim hatred. Luke stressed that whilst the organisation do not currently receive funding to conduct projects that will help to combat Islamophobia, he suggested that through their constant engagement with schools around Scotland, Show Racism the Red Card are ideally placed to deliver such work if funders were willing to back them.
We would like to thank Radio Ramadhan for inviting Luke onto the show, and hope that further opportunities for cooperation between our two organisations can take place in the future.