The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports

Over the last few decades, there has been an ongoing fight against racism in sports. It all started back in 1968 when the Olympic Games medalists for the 200m run protested to support the ongoing Black Power movement.

To this day, this act remains one of the biggest controversies in sports given, as not only did Tommie Smith and John Carlos experience a career downfall after that but so did Australian runner Peter Norman who was next to them. 

Still, this protest in 1968 sparked the fight against discrimination in sports, and it is still going on today. It is disappointing that after numerous successful careers by famous athletes, there still are individual cases of racism in sports. Here are some that we were shocked by.

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: ESPN 

15. Tottenham Defender Danny Rose

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Getty / @Michael Regan

One of the most recent cases of racism was when Danny Rose, a current player for Newcastle United on a lease from Tottenham, went through a rollercoaster of racist situations in 2019. 

The first incident happened in March, as he was playing for the England national team and was constantly abused by the Montenegro fans who came to support their country. 

Tough To Handle

It is clear that the situation was hard for him, as after the game Danny started, “I can’t wait to retire from football after what I experienced this day”. 

To top it all off, this wasn’t the only incident. Throughout the next few months, he was subject to many racial slurs, mostly from the fans of opposing teams. 

14. The Case Of Zenit Saint Petersburg – Malcom

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Alexander Demianchuk / Getty

As one of the most aspiring Brazilian football stars, Malcom was transferred from Barcelona to Zenit Saint Petersburg for a hefty $54 million

Apparently, this decision wasn’t welcomed by several fans of the Russian club. 

Reaction of Fans

In the first couple of weeks, he was constantly met with insults, and he even came across a posted flag that said, “we don’t accept black players into our club”. 

Fans tried to justify their statements by saying that they weren’t racist, but that it was simply a part of the Zenit Saint Petersburg tradition. However, that wasn’t accepted by the general public. 

13. Bulgarian Nazi Salutes 

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Getty / @Catherine Ivill

When talking about the racist incidents in sports, we can’t go without mentioning the match between Bulgaria and England that was held on October 14, 2019. 

Both the players and the public witnessed a set of Nazi salutes performed by supporters of the Bulgarian national team (just a few), who directly pointed to the black players of the English national team. 

What Did Popov Do?

To stop them from continuing in this terrible behavior, Ivelin Popov went to the crowd and tried to calm them down, but this was to no avail. 

In the end, the game was paused multiple times as a consequence of these actions.

12. “Derby of the Sun” and Kalidou Koulibaly

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Getty / @Marco Canoneiro 

One of the biggest football spectacles in Italy is the matchup between Napoli and Roma. The match that was held on November 2, 2019, is one that won’t be remembered in a good way.

The Color of His Skin

Napoli player Kalidou Koulibaly was constantly bullied and booed because of the color of his skin. 

The players of both teams, as well as the officials, found this unacceptable, and this resulted in the match being suspended.

11. Mario Balotelli Abused By Verona Fans

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Associated Press

There is no denying that Mario Balotelli is one of the most controversial active football players. Still, his private life shouldn’t have anything to do with how he is treated during matches, nor should his race. 

Slurs and Insults

On November 3, 2019, throughout the Brescia and Verona derby, Mario was constantly exposed to racial slurs and insults. 

In the end, he kicked the ball into the crowd because he couldn’t stand it anymore. 

10. The Case Of Anthony Mundine

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Money Inc

Over the past couple of years, a number of sports competitors have talked about the experiences that they had in Australia, and these statements have involved a lot of racism-related acts. 

The most famous one has to be Anthony Mundine, who is currently a successful boxer but was a rugby player before that. He competed for New South Wales.

Barred From Positions

As he claims, he was constantly exposed to racial insults, as well as mistreatment in the firm of not being allowed to play in positions he was best suited for. 

This is quite shocking, especially when you take into consideration that Anthony was one of the best rugby players at the time. According to him, nothing has changed, and many black players still experience some form of abuse in Australia.

9. The Negro Leagues

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Awful Announcing

As a consequence of segregation, as well as multiple manifests that were presented at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, African-American and Latino players were barred from competing in Major League Baseball. 

Separated Leagues

In the early 1900s and on through the 1950s, several Negro leagues were formed to fight the oppression and to show to the public that they weren’t different in any way from white-colored competitors. 

8. Tiger Woods Racism Battle

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Today’s Golfer

Whether you like him or not, Tiger Woods has made a mark on the sport of golf for all time. 

He is one of the most successful players both when you take into consideration his overall score, as well as the number of trophies won. 

Bullying and Insults

Although he was one of the biggest advocates of golf, Tiger was a victim of several racist situations, including Fuzzy Zoeller making fun of him for his color, as well as Steve Williams hurling several racial insults at Tiger in 2011. 

7. The Ban Of Donald Sterling

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Time Magazine

If you are an NBA fan, then you surely know the racism case that occurred back in the 1990s during the playoffs. 

No Promotions

Donald Sterling, who was the owner of the LA Clippers at the time, made a series of racial insults not only towards Magic Johnson but to all black players, claiming that they shouldn’t be promoted. 

The result of this was that Doc Rivers and other LA Clippers players requested that he be dismissed from being an owner and banned from the NBA, which eventually happened.

6. Lewis Hamilton

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Deutsche Welle

One of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of our time, Lewis Hamilton is another professional who went through a number of unpleasant situations. 

Unpleasant Comments

During his rivalry with Fernando Alonso, he was constantly insulted by the Spaniard’s fans for his color and ancestry. 

Today, he is one of the biggest advocates against racism, and he played a huge role in protests against the killing of George Floyd.

5. NASCAR

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Sporting News

The 2020 NASCAR season was marked by the ongoing Black Lives Matter Movement, and Bubba Wallace is one of the very few drivers who represented the movement in this sport. 

Insults and Flags

Wallace and the drivers who stood with him were met with a number of insults and were also exposed to Confederate flags, which were later banned by NASCAR. 

4. Patrick Ewing 

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: NBA

Back in 1983, when Ewing was a college player for Georgetown University, he was constantly taunted by fans, who called him illiterate, “an ape”, and even threw banana peels at him. 

Anti-racism in Sports

Still, not only was Patrick Ewing above all these racial slurs, he also became one of the icons of Georgetown and stands as one of the most famous advocates against racism in sports. 

3. Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympic Games

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Swish Appeal

We all know what the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin were all about – proving racial supremacy. To the great misfortune of this whole concept, Jesse Owens, a young African-American athlete won four gold medals. 

Racial Supremacy?

This was a big surprise to everyone present, and certain reports state that Hitler left before the winning ceremony. 

However, while it is a fact that a lot of racial slurs were present at the event, Jesse Owens said that Hitler waved and congratulated him in his own manner.

2. Moise Kean Abused By Cagliari Fans

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Getty / @Marco Bertorello

After Moise Kean, who was 19 at the time, celebrated a goal in front of Cagliari fans, he was blatantly abused by them. 

Abuse and Attacks

Kean was on the receiving end of many verbal insults, as well as objects being thrown at him. 

While certain sports analysts claim that he provoked this reaction with the goal celebration, that is in no way a justification of racist behavior.

1. Ligue 1

The 15 Biggest and Saddest Cases of Racism in Sports
Image Source: Getty / Jeff Pachoud

Prince Guano is one of the most publicized players of Ligue 1, and the main reason for that is because he is constantly exposed to verbal abuse and threats by fans of opposing teams. 

Unacceptable Behavior

The same happened at a Ligue 1 match in 2019, after which he stated that such behavior is unacceptable and the officials should impose more drastic sanctions for those promoting such behavior.

Summary

Looking at all of these instances, it is quite safe to conclude that racism in sports is still present

However, the good thing is that activists are making a change, and the situation is much better than it was a couple of decades ago.