Racial bias in commentary, study shows
A study commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association has found that black players are far more likely to be described using negative language when discussing intelligence and work rate by radio and television commentators.
The study, by Danish company RunRepeat, studied commentary from 80 games – across the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 – by English speakers working for British, American and Canadian outlets.
It showed that players of a lighter skin tone were more likely to be praised for intelligence, quality and hard work. Those with darker skin tones were more likely to have their positive impact reduced to physical characteristics and athletic ability.
Statistical analysis showed 62.60 per cent of praise offered for intelligence was given to players of lighter skin tone, while 60.40 per cent of praise referenced their work rate. Commentators were six times more likely to talk about players of darker skin tone in terms of their physicality and more than three times more likely to talk about their speed.
The report concluded: “This must be the moment that we all, collectively, address deep-rooted racial stereotypes. We understand that the commentators may not have intended to further racial stereotypes. However, the narrative of black people’s primary value laying in their physicality and not their intelligence dates back to attitudes modern society is determined to eradicate.”
Jason Lee, the PFA’s Equalities Executive, explained this was about education rather than blame.
“If people are ignorant and they don’t want to change, that’s when we have a problem,” he said. “We are trying to make it a better place for the people who follow us.”