FourFourTwo poll gives insight into racism and match fixing
FourFourTwo polled 100 professional players, including 11 Premier League players.
More than a quarter (26 per cent) said they had heard another player make a racist comment during a match. Half agreed that some of their fellow pros regularly take recreational drugs such as cocaine — while 14 per cent admitted knowing that match-fixing goes on in the game. Others said some players also use performance enhancing drugs.
And 25 per cent believed that a footballer who came out as gay would be treated as an outcast.
Of racism, one League Two defender said: “I’ve been called a n***** or a black b*****d. It doesn’t bother me; I just feel sorry for the ignorant player saying it.”
A Championship striker said: “I had a defender racially insult me throughout a game. I know black team-mates have suffered the same.”
A Scottish Premier League star added: “When I first started playing, I knew of players who would use racist language to get the edge on an opponent.”
The revelations follow a string of racism rows that have rocked football over the past two years.
Two high-profile cases saw the FA ban Chelsea’s John Terry for four games for racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand — despite a court finding him not guilty — and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez get an eight-game ban for the same offence against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Former Newcastle defender and anti-racism campaigner Olivier Bernard, 33, said: “Things are a lot better than ten or 15 years ago but there is still a lot to be done.”
Leroy Rosenior said: “People understand and recognise racism now and are more willing to report it.”
Lord Herman Ouseley insisted: “It is crucial that players on the receiving end make their voices heard and action can be taken.”
A The Players’ Poll by respected football magazine FourFourTwo also suggested drug-taking is rife.
One Premier League star said: “What goes on in the wider world is reflected in sport. The problem is proving it.”
Another top level striker added: “You do wonder — I’ve come up against a defender who wasn’t the quickest one season and was like s*** off a shovel the next”.
Half of those asked also thought recreational drugs are used by team-mates and opponents — mostly during the summer when players are on holiday. A League Two player declared: “It’s common knowledge that many players do it over the summer”. And an SPL midfielder said: “There’s a lot of cocaine about because it leaves your system quickly.”
Of match-fixing, a League Two defender said: “It goes on. I’ve had players call me and tell me to bet on the outcome of a match, especially at the end of the season.
“I’ve never been approached myself, but I know it goes on.”
Another League Two defender said: “I was playing in non-league football and the chairman was into it and everything. We would be told to throw a game and everyone lumped into it.”
A quarter of those quizzed reckoned a gay player would be rejected by others with one SPL player saying: “I just don’t think it’s a tolerable environment.”
Last month Liverpool player Suso was fined £10,000 by the FA for calling team-mate Jose Enrique “gay” on Twitter after he had his teeth whitened.
Eleven players from the Premier League, 29 from the Championship, 18 from League One, 31 from League Two and 11 from the Scottish Premier League took part anonymously in the mag’s poll. Editor David Hall said:
“Even anonymously we thought players would be reluctant to give a brutally honest opinion on the issues in the game. We were wrong.”
Other confessions included 70 per cent saying it was acceptable to dive to win a penalty.
More than half (57 per cent) disagreed that footballers earn too much, while 25 per cent admitted using their fame to impress women.
Fifty-four per cent felt the idea of players being loyal to a club was outdated and nearly a quarter said they don’t mind losing a game as long as they play well.
Forty-three per cent reckoned there were too many foreign players in the English game.