Show Racism the Red Card

Age range : 14-18 or older
Suitable after 3 years of English
Theme: Football in the UK and campaigns against racism in sport
Lexical area: sport, football and racism
Cross curricular links: personal and social Education, citizenship
Internet links:

Instructions for language assistants in italics:

Since this topic is sensitive, you should check its appropriacy with your teachers before using it.

  1. Sports brainstorm

    You may wish to check the European web link to find out about campaign activities in your host country. Try to bring some pictures of British players and foreign players in the Premiership teams from newspapers or BBC news websites for sport.

    Many modern sports today were either devised or took their modern form in Britain: football, cricket, tennis, golf, rugby, boxing, snooker.. Note that the most popular sport in the UK for men is walking with snooker coming second. Women list walking as their favourite and netball is second. These figures refer to participation in the sport.

    Make 1. a) fun by setting a time limit and awarding points. The red card is shown in football when a player is sent off the field for gross misconduct.

    a. List as many sports as possible that might be played in the UK. How many of them were devised by the British?

    b. What are the most popular sports in your country or area? Do you play any of them?

    c. Which sport do you associate with a red card? What does it mean? When is it used?

  2. Read and find out

    Encourage a bit of prediction for a) Why might they not be accepted? (colour of their skin)

    a. Were black players accepted by football crowds twenty years ago? (not always)

    b. Who is working against racism in UK football? (footballers, clubs and anti racist organisations)

    c. What is happening all over Europe in October? ( an anti racism week of activities)

    Show Racism the Red Card

    Football, the largest spectator sport in the UK, has changed a great deal in the last twenty years. Not so long ago black footballers frequently faced racist chants from the crowds. Premiership players from countries outside the UK have said that this is a cultural thing. ” A Dad acts in a certain way with his son right beside him”. Another player agrees, ”If everyday you hear something like your father saying ‘I hate blacks’ then one day the kid will say the same thing”. Premiership clubs now have top players from many countries and ethnic minorities born and brought up in Britain. The racism experienced by these players has decreased thanks to campaigns in schools and at football grounds.

    ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ and ‘Kick Racism Out of Football’ are two organisations working to end the racism in football crowds. In recent weeks there have been a number of racist chants and taunts at European football matches where black players from British clubs were playing. Racism in football is still a European problem.

    This October British and European football clubs, top players and organisations are making a stand against racism. National Anti-Racism week starts on October 17th and a European week of action will take place at the same time. The aim is to celebrate the contribution that ethnic minorities and foreign players make to our national game. Schools, community groups and football crowds will all be involved in making posters, speaking out against intolerance and learning how to give everyone in British society a chance to play football.

    racial taunts: bad and insulting words
    chants: songs and phrases repeated again and again by crowds
    campaign: an organised protest over a long period of time
    make a stand against: protest/refuse to accept or tolerate
    kick out of: remove
    football ground: the place where a game is played/stadium
    football pitch: the field where the game is played

  3. Interpretation and discussion

    Students could do this in pairs or small groups if they are fairly confident and used to group work. Get suggestions from the whole class/group in your feedback session. Have they participated in any campaigns before?

    a. What is the main reason for racist behaviour given by the players?
    b. Think of 2 other possible reasons for racist taunts at football matches.
    c. Give one example of action that campaigners in the UK use to combat racism.
    d. Think of 3 ways to campaign in your school this October.

  4. Sport in your country

    The guidance you give depends on their level. Lower levels will need help in building questions with prompts like: Where..? How often? How long? Give higher levels more ideas and prompts: Have you ever been to an away match?/played on a team? Are you a season ticket holder? Encourage more follow up questions depending on their level of interest.

    Bring out the issue of discrimination. Are girls encouraged to play football? Explain that for years Asians in Britain, like Blacks before them, were not given the chance to work up through teams to national level. This has changed within the last 20 years. The first black Captain of England was Paul Ince in 1993. Sport in 70s and 80s Britain had a laddish image but reviews of stadium facilities and improvement in crowd behaviour is making it a more family orientated game with many women season ticket holders.

    a) Are there any foreign players on your local teams ? How are they accepted or welcomed by the public?

    b) Do all members of your society get an equal chance to participate in sport ? Give examples.

      Young people; old people; women; ethnic minorities

    c) What sort of image does football have ? Is it a family activity or an all-male activity?

  5. Interview your friends

    Make as many questions as you can, using the words below:

      Favourite sport? spectator or participant? Favourite team/player?

  6. Sporting terms

    If students are interested in 'borrowings', you could add other categories or get the students to suggest categories: e.g. music; science and technology; politics; economics.

    Are any English sporting terms used in your language? Find examples from the press, magazines or TV.


© British Council. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.
We are registered in England as a Charity. Our privacy statement . Our Freedom of Information Publications Scheme

Visit The British Council Website