Awaritefe throws down gauntlet to players, fans, administrators for anti-racism

Kusini Yengi (L), Francis Awaritefe Source: AAP, Getty Images

PFA Chair and former Socceroo Francis Awaritefe has outlined short and long term work to combat racial abuse, in particular via social media, after another sickening incident in the A-League last week.

Adelaide United youngster Kusini Yengi was subjected to online racial abuse after a star turn in the Reds' win over rivals Melbourne Victory.

In the wake of that incident, TWG Live Show host Lucy Zelic asked Awaritefe how football, as a code, will improve dealing with situations of racist abuse.

Awaritefe explained the need to analyse the issue and understand that these aren't isolated incidents but, in fact, symptoms of a systemic social issue.

"Is this racism interpersonal, is it an individual or a few bad apples? Or is it a systemic thing?" he said Wednesday on the TWG Live Show.

"In my view, it's systemic, because it's recurring - it's a recurring issue."

He discussed the need to combat racism in both the short and long term, using different methods.

"There's a longer game, which is what we do in terms of how we tackle the issue of racial vilification on social media platforms - and we do that through hard and deep work with organisations like the Australian Athletes Alliance, through inter-government organisations on a global stage, working with FIFPro and the World Player's Association," said Awaritefe.

"[Progress] is going to be through a collective effort because the social media platforms are so economically powerful that even governments around the world are having problems regulating them.

"So we need a joint effort on a global scale to be able to actually bring about the sort of leverage and pressure to get social media platforms to actually start to regulate properly the abuse and vilification of black players or anyone, whether it's your sexual orientation or your gender.

"I applaud Kusini Yengi and Bernie Ibini for their public activism on anti-racism and the way that they've taken this on.

"The PFA, every dressing room in the A-League and W-League, are behind their black teammates on this and will support them to the hilt.

Awaritefe went on to detail the difference between the absence of racism and actually being anti-racist.

"In terms of people's own individual situations, about anti-racism - it's one thing for people to put out statements and say that they're not racist, but anti-racist actually involves directly confronting racism.

"Whether it's at home, whether it's at the dinner table, whether it's in the pub with your mates, whether it's in the workplace.

"People who are not racist, they just let it go in that moment because they don't want to get into that confrontation - whereas people who are anti-racist will say something.

"It doesn't mean that you've got to bang the table or jab your finger at somebody, it just means you've got to say to them 'with respect, that is a racist statement', 'that is not acceptable'.

"I think at that moment you're planting a flag - you're letting people know where you stand individually in terms of racism.

"I think that's the work we all have to do individually in our lives.

"And also learning, there's lots of resources out there. Read! If you've got black friends, speak to them about their experiences, listen to them.

"I think that work and that development has to happen.

"The work of anti-racism is not something you do for a month or two, or by reading a couple of books. It's a lifelong thing.

"I challenge our players, I challenge our fans, I challenge our administrators to actually start to do that work.

"The serious work of anti-racism, which is to really look at themselves and start having uncomfortable conversations with themselves, with their friends, with their families. And when they see racist conduct in those spaces, to actually directly confront it.

"I think that is the short term thing we can do. But the longer term stuff is around the coalition, the collective work that we've got to do at a global level, which the player unions are doing."

Source SBS The World Game