Jude Bellingham questions whether authorities ‘care’ about racist abuse directed at black footballers



“The first two times I remember putting my story on and I got a pretty good reaction in terms of people saying they were with me.”

“There’s not a single job in the world where you deserve to be criticized for racism,” Bellingham adds. “I’ll never forget, it was the first time I got a batch of messages correctly.”

Bellingham says there are inconsistencies in how football’s governing bodies deal with racism, compared to other incidents of misconduct, given that FIFA has official rules holding clubs accountable for racist actions by their supporters.

In December, the German Football Federation (DFB) fined him $45,000 (40,000 euros) for comments he made about referee Felix Zwayer, following the 3-2 defeat of his team against Bayern Munich.

The DFB called Bellingham’s comments ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ as his comments had ‘questioned the referee’s impartiality’.

“The club was quick to send someone to message me and make sure I was okay and I really appreciate that. Teammates messaged me, of course, members of family,” Bellingham said, referring to when he was racially abused.

“I really haven’t received anything from the DFB or the FA or anything like that. And I still kind of compare it to when I said the thing about the referee in December.

Bellingham (centre) plays for Borussia Dortmund in their group stage match against Lazio on October 20, 2020 at Olympic Stadium in Rome, Italy.

“They were very quick to get in touch to give me my fine, give me my punishment, kind of make it a big media drama.

“I learned from that. I know what I can and can’t say. I know that, you know, sometimes I have to control my emotions better,” he says.

“But, you know, when you give more energy than the situation I was in, I felt like I was going through… maybe we’re alone and maybe they’re not interested, maybe “Maybe they don’t care. And maybe it’s up to me and us to work independently to get our message across.”

Players or officials who engage in racist language or behavior can be sanctioned by a suspension of at least 10 matches, or “any other appropriate disciplinary measure”, according to the latest edition of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

Clubs can be fined a minimum of CHF 20,000 ($20,076) if their supporters engage in discriminatory behavior, the code adds. Other penalties include point deduction, playing a match without spectators, forfeit of a match, expulsion from a tournament or relegation to a lower division.

In September 2021, FIFA sanctioned the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) for the racist behavior of “many fans” during a World Cup qualifier against England.

MLSZ have been fined $216,000 and ordered to play their next FIFA-sanctioned home game without fans, after ITV journalist Gabriel Clarke, who was at Budapest’s Puskas Arena, said having heard monkey chants directed at Raheem Sterling and at Bellingham while he was. preparing to come on as a substitute, in England’s 4-0 win earlier in September.

CNN has contacted the DFB for comment.

Bellingham looks on during Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga match against FC Bayern München at Allianz Arena on April 23, 2022 in Munich, Germany.
Born in 2003 and raised in Stourbridge, England, Bellingham joined Birmingham City FC’s academy aged seven, according to the club’s website.
His parents, Denise Bellingham and Mark Bellingham, drove him to training around five times a week, but it wasn’t until he was scouted for the England Under-15 team that they realized how much potential he had, according to the club’s website. .
Mark forged a prolific career in non-league football – scoring over 700 goals in 22 years – while serving as a sergeant for West Midlands Police, the website adds.

During his meteoric rise on the world stage, Bellingham has remained confident and poised, which he says would not be possible without the support of his family, especially his mother.

“I talk a lot about my parents and the people who kind of brought me up in football and not just in football but also in life,” he says.

“My mom, my dad are two huge role models for me because of how well they behaved, the things they had to deal with on their own journeys.”

“She always gave me a lot of lessons about how I would be perceived by others, sometimes because of the color of my skin, sometimes because of how we’re kind of stereotyped.”

“I think she has to do a lot of the things she did just to make sure my brother and I never have anything to want,” he says. “I can’t put into words what this means to me.

“I have a black woman that I live with every day and I see how she behaves,” he adds. “My mum is definitely one of my heroes off the pitch, if not the greatest.”

Denise Bellingham (left), Jude Bellingham (second left), Jobe Bellingham (second right) and Mark Bellingham (right) on the red carpet ahead of the 2021 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

It looks like Bellingham may share some of his prodigious talent with his younger brother Jobe, 16, a promising professional footballer who has also signed with Birmingham City FC.

When Jobe made his debut for the club in January, Bellingham paid tribute to him on social media with the caption: “So proud.”

Bellingham celebrates his brother’s success, but also pledges to raise awareness about the barriers black players face in football.

“It is important that I make him aware of the challenges he will face from a football point of view and also from a racing point of view.

“I can’t let other kids down who look up to me,” he says. “I think it gives me a lot of pleasure too. And like I said, it’s a responsibility I’m ready to take on.”

Only five of the 91 managers and head coaches in England’s top four divisions are of black, Asian or minority background.

While the proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic players in the UK is around 25%, these figures have not been replicated in recent years when it comes to positions of authority in football, previously reported CNN.

Bellingham says he has only worked with a handful of black coaches so far in his career, including Chris Powell, Michael Johnson, Deon Burton and Dele Adebola.

“I can’t discredit any of the coaches I’ve had because they’ve all been brilliant in my development,” he says.

“But, you know, I think about it from a different perspective, the way I think about the opportunity and I think, you know, what if I wasn’t a footballer and I wanted to become a coach and that I wanted to do this and I wanted that – would I have the same opportunity as some of my friends who are white, for example?

“Racism… It’s like one of those things that will never go away,” he says. “I think there are people in power who can take more responsibility in this fight. And I don’t think they are.”

England footballers lost the Euro 2020 final. But they could still win the culture war
Bellingham became the second-youngest player to feature at Euro 2020 last year when he represented England in their match against Croatia in the group stages of the tournament, according to the official website. UEFA.​
The team triumphantly reached the final of the prestigious European tournament, having won a series of enthralling matches against favorites like Denmark and Germany. It was the first time the men’s team had reached the final stage of a major competition since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Amid a global pandemic – when many England fans were just emerging from the UK’s first national lockdown with feelings of grief and isolation – the team sought to bring the country together.

But when England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy after an extremely heavy 3-2 penalty shootout loss at Wembley Stadium, the country’s semblance of unity crumbled.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka have all been the target of racial slurs on social media by some fans after missing the penalty shootout in the final. Team manager Gareth Southgate described the abuse as “unforgivable” and “just not what we stand for”.
England's Jadon Sancho (left) and Jude Bellingham (right) in action during the England training session at St George's Park on June 14, 2021 in Burton upon Trent, England.

Reflecting on the tournament, Bellingham said: “I think the biggest takeaway from the whole experience for me was the contrast.”

“We showed real character to win the games and it felt like the country had come together,” he said. “I know they’re select idiots, of course, and it’s not the whole nation turning against them.

“I’m sure they probably got more back support, but the only support they should need is for missing the penalty, not for the racism they suffered afterwards.”

“I spent a lot of time with Jadon obviously because he’s from Dortmund, Bukayo who I had spoken to quite a bit and Marcus at camp and you know… They’re human,” he added.

“Then you see them shot like that. It’s like it’s disgusting, but it’s hard to take, to be honest, as a team-mate. All of a sudden, you know, you’ve been English since seven games, you miss a pen and you’re nothing.”

Southgate’s humble and temperate management style was praised throughout the tournament.

Ahead of Euro 2020, he penned an open letter to fans titled ‘Dear England’, in which he defended his side’s decision to take the knee before matches in a show of support for anti-racism.

“Gareth Southgate was brilliant. I remember the next camp after the Euros, we did a debrief for the tournament. And he took a lot of time to talk about what happened in that situation,” Bellingham said. . “He always brought it up as a topic in meetings.

“As a black player, you’re very grateful for that. You shouldn’t have to deal with that anymore. And I’ll keep saying that. But you know, it’s good to feel supported.”


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