One in five professional football players has suffered harassment or intimidation by fans, teams, trainers, or other players. The result was revealed through a study of the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) which surveyed close to 14,000 players; 148 of these were interviewed in Belgium, as published Tuesday by Het Nieuwsblad.
This discrimination mainly targets the race, character or religion of players. In Belgium the numbers are higher than in the rest of the world. “It’s not surprising, since many foreign players emerge from the Belgian leagues,” explained Stijn Boeyken, secretary of Sporta, the footballers’ union.
“We regularly see in the teams that players group together according to their language. Many players do not remain in Belgium for long, and they therefore do not need to learn the language. They don’t feel the need to integrate, and this generates mutual lack of understanding.”
The survey also showed that 14% of players have been victims of threats on the part of fans, and 5% have suffered violence. Besides bad relations with fans, tense relations arise between players, clubs and coaches.