A Systemic Perspective on Racism in Football: The Experience of the BRISWA Project


  • Stefano Armenia Link Campus University
  • Camillo Carlini System Dynamics Italian Chapter
  • Jason Papathanasiou University of Macedonia
  • Alessandro Pompei System Dynamics Italian Chapter
  • Georgios Tsaples University of Macedonia




Systems Thinking, Racism, Football, Group Model Building, Causal Loop Diagrams, Complex Systems, Social Dynamics, E Sport


The objective of this paper is to present the process for the development of a causal loop diagram that captures the relevant aspects of racism in football, through a holistic, top-down approach. To do so, a series of workshops/sessions has been organised with experts in the field and with the purpose of designing a tool that could be used to get better insights into how racism in football emerges and where are the potential areas where policymakers could use as leverage for effective counter-measures. The diagram demonstrated the multi-faceted nature of racism, the phenomena that might give rise to it and the elements that could serve as leverage in potential counter-measures. Some of the most interesting results include the following: the power structures of society and football should adapt to represent the actual demographic make-up of each country. Furthermore, policymakers should involve media more directly in every attempt to fight racism. Finally, racism in football is a mirror of racism in society. Hence, any attempt to combat racism in football should be interlinked with corresponding efforts to fight discrimination in society.


Armenia, S., Tsaples, G., and Carlini, C. (2018), “Critical Events and Critical Infrastructures: A System Dynamics Approach”, in F. Dargam, P. Delias, I. Linden and B. Mareschal (eds), Decision Support Systems VIII: Sustainable Data-Driven and Evidence-Based Decision Support. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference, ICDSST 2018, Heraklion, Greece, May 22–25, 2018, pp. 55–66, Cham (Switzerland): Springer.

Bains, J., and Johal, S. (1998), Corner Flags and Corner Shops: The Asian Football Experience, London: Phoenix.

Bradbury, S. (2013), “Institutional Racism, Whiteness and the Under-Representation of Minorities in Leadership Positions in Football in Europe”, Soccer & Society, 14 (3): 296–314.

Burdsey, D. (2006), “No Ball Games Allowed? a Socio-Historical Examination of the Development and Social Significance of British Asian Football Clubs”, Journal of Ethnic Migration Studies, 32 (3): 477–496.

Burdsey, D. (2007), British Asians and Football: Culture, Identity and Exclusion, London: Routledge.

Burdsey, D. (2014), “One Week in October: Luis Suarez, John Terry and the Turn to Racial Neoliberalism in English Men’s Professional Football”, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 21 (5): 429–447.

Cashmore, E., and Cleland, J. (2014), Football’s Dark Side: Corruption, Homophobia, Violence and Racism in the Beautiful Game, London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Doidge, M. (2015), “’If You Jump up and down Balotelli Dies’: Racism and Player Abuse in Italian Football”, Internation Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50 (3): 249–269.

FIFA (2006), Fair-Play. Available online at http://www.fifa.com/sustainability/fair-play.html (last accessed: April 15, 2017).

Garland, J., and Rowe, M. (1999), “Selling the Game Short: An Examination of the Role of Antiracism in British Football”, Sociology of Sport Journal, 16 (1): 33–53.

Garland, J., and Rowe, M. (2001), Racism and Anti-Racism in Football, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Kassimeris, C. (2009), Anti-Racism in European Football: Fairplay for All, Plymouth: Lexington Press.
King, C. (2004), Offside Racism, Oxford: Berg.

Krasnoff, L.S. (2017), “Devolution of Les Bleus as a Symbol of a Multicultural French Future”, Soccer & Society, 18 (2-3): 311–319.

Llopis-Goig, R. (2013), “Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Spanish Football: Evolution and Responses from the Government and the Civil Society”, Soccer & Society, 14 (2): 262–276.

Long, J. (2000), “No Racism Here? a Preliminary Examination of Sporting Innocence”, Managing Leisure, 5: 121–133.

Long, J., Hylton, K., Welch, M., and Dart, J. (2000), Part of the Game? An Examination of Racism in Grassroots football, Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University, School of Leisure and Sports Studies, Kick it Out/Centre for Leisure and Sport Research.

Long, J., Hylton, K., Sprancklen, A., Ratna, A., and Bailey, S. (2009), Systematic Review of the Literature on Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in Sport and Physical Recreation, Leeds: Carnegie Research University.

Macpherson, W. (1999), The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, London: Stationary Office.

Meadows, D. (1980), “The Unavoidable A Priori”, in J. Randers (ed.), Elements of the System Dynamics Method, pp. 23–57, Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.

Müller, Floris, van Zoonen, L., and de Roode, L. (2007), “Accidental Racists: Experiences and Contradictions of Racism in Local Amsterdam Soccer Fan Culture”, Soccer & Society, 8 (2-3): 335–350.

Myrovali, G., Tsaples, G., Morfoulaki, M., Aifadopoulou, G., and Papathanasiou, J. (2018), “An Interactive Learning Environment Based on System Dynamics Methodology for Sustainable Mobility Challenges Communication & Citizens’ Engagement”, Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, 313: 88–99.

Pinto, T., Drew, D., and Minhas, N. (1997), Sheffield Divided or United? A Study of “Race” and Football, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Renfrew, D., and Snyder, G. M. (2016), “’When Said with a Sneer’: Translating Language, Race and Culture through an English Football Race Controversy”, City & Society, 28 (3): 319–340.

Solomos, J., and Back, L. (1996), Racism and Society, Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Sterman, J. (2000), Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, Boston (MA): Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

Talbot, D., and Bose, M. (2007), “Racism, Criminalization and the Development of Night-Time Economies: Two Case Studies in London and Manchester”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30 (1): 95–118.
The Daily Telegraph (2012, September 27), “John Terry Racism Row with Anton Ferdinand: Timeline”, The Daily Telegraph. Available online at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/chelsea/8860484/John-Terry-racism-row-with-Anton-Ferdinand-timeline.html (last accessed: April 15, 2017).




How to Cite

Armenia, S., Carlini, C., Papathanasiou, J., Pompei, A., & Tsaples, G. (2020). A Systemic Perspective on Racism in Football: The Experience of the BRISWA Project. PuntOorg International Journal, 4(2), 56–70. https://doi.org/10.19245/25.05.pij.4.2.1