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‘Racist behaviour is interfering with the game’: exploring football fans’ online responses to accusations of racism in football

Cable, J., Kilvington, D. & Mottershead, G. ORCID: 0000-0001-7552-0420 (2022). ‘Racist behaviour is interfering with the game’: exploring football fans’ online responses to accusations of racism in football. Soccer and Society, 23(8), pp. 880-893. doi: 10.1080/14660970.2022.2109804


This paper explores an incident of alleged fan racism involving Chelsea defender, Antonio Rüdiger. During a match against Tottenham Hotspur, in December 2019, Rüdiger claimed he heard racial abuse from Spurs fans. This incident sparked a broader national conversation regarding racism in sport, and wider society. This paper will draw on a comprehensive content analysis of Twitter comments to provide insights into fan reactions at the time of the incident. Was Rüdiger alleged to have played the ‘race card’? Was Rüdiger believed to have used his ‘race’ to attempt to punish the Spurs’ fans? Using thematic analysis, it will highlight patterns in fan responses to this case and attempt to illustrate football fans’ attitudes towards ‘race’ and racism within English football. The paper will close by offering some final thoughts on how racism, and other forms of discrimination, can be both challenged inside the stadium and on social media.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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