young soccers

face the pressure of the dominant group

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: Street soccer board member

Age: 33

Gender: male

Nationality: Portuguese

Type of radicalization: nationality based

Historical period collocation: 2013

Date/Country of the Interview: 15/02/2019, Portugal

Interviewer: Rosto Solidário

Rosto Solidario

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

board member

Yes

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

In 2013, while my team was participating in a sports competition in Poznan - Poland.
Anytime we go abroad to attend sports competitions we seek to give our young athletes the opportunity to experience other activities that might foster their personal development such as recreational, cultural or educational activities. In this sense we organized a walk with our team members through the historical center of the city allowing them to get to know the historical sites. This was planned to be a normal tour of a group of 12 people, duly equipped and identified as the Portuguese team, waiting to explore a new city, considering that for most of the youngsters this was the first experience abroad.
During the tour we began to hear someone scream at our group. First in an unknown language for us (possibly Polish) and then in English. The group that approached us started by calling some of our youngsters "monkeys", later imitating the body language of the primates and then asked the youngsters if they wanted bananas. As our youngsters stood indifferent to this insults, the attackers raised the level of insults and started to shout that our group should leave their country, continuously stating that we were not welcome.
Throughout this process and as a result of the extensive work of developing personal and social skills with these youngsters, they stayed together, kept walking, looking straight ahead and never replying to any of the insults or taunts.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

Initially it was not clear what was happening because the insults were in a language that our group did not understood. When the insults were voiced in English and accompanied by gestures, it became clear what our group was experiencing.
I consider this an example of radicalization considering that the behaviour of the group attacking us was a result of discrimination and prejudice against a race and nationality different from their own, triggered by the fact that our team was having a good performance in the event unlike the host team.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

At the moment we tried to manage the situation trying to stay as indifferent as possible, pretending to ignore the group that was insulting us and keeping the walk as planned seeking to avoid any kind of physical or verbal confrontation. The fact that the group did not react to insults and provocations at the time doesn’t mean that had no impact over our group youngsters, especially those directly targeted by the insults.
However, as a result of our work with them, the youngsters knew that the insults and provocations they suffered were due to the lack of information and knowledge of the attacking group. The youngsters were accompanied by the whole technical team. The situation was reported to the event organization members and local authorities that did apologize but underestimated anyway the set of happenings.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

Yes. We felt that our youngsters responded in the best way, ignoring provocations. Despite the frightening situation, we felt that it was a test on their personal development and their resilience, self-control and self-confidence (as well as the trust in the staff) were crucial.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

In fact, the situation has not solved per se. However, as a group we have learned that despite the humiliating experience, particularly for those affected, the support of our youngster’s peers was crucial to avoid that this bad experience has a greater (negative) impact on themselves and their self-esteem. In similar situations we believe that avoiding confrontation is the best. The fact that the aggressors were in a group galvanizes their behaviour and the confrontation can easily escalate to the physical aggression. Therefore, our position and recommendation is that in similar situations, if possible, contact should be avoided and the situation should be immediately reported to the authorities.

Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?

Radicalization, particularly in sports, is often fuelled by peer pressure and a great lack of information/ ignorance. It is therefore essential to foster education for citizenship and to develop with our youngsters the ability to reflect.

young soccers

ignore the provocations against peer pressure

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: Street soccer board member

Age: 33

Gender: male

Nationality: Portuguese

Type of radicalization: nationality based

Historical period collocation: 2016

Date/Country of the Interview: 15/02/2019, Portugal

Interviewer: Rosto Solidário

Rosto Solidario

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

board member

Yes

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

In 2016, while we were participating in a sports competition in Glasgow - Scotland (at the same time that the Euro 2016 cup was being disputed and that Portugal end it up winning – which is relevant as a background for this story.
On our way from the accommodation to the venue where we were going to play, our group of 12 people, duly equipped and identified as being the Portuguese team was approached by a group of locals.
Suddenly a group of locals started to be aggressive and to intimidate us as they spit on our youngsters and insult us saying, for example, that we were Europe's junk and demanding that we return to our country.
Our youngsters became disoriented, frightened and later frustrated that they had been treated in this way.
Staff took them from there as quickly as possible to avoid any further physical aggression by the locals.
Throughout this process and as a result of the extensive work of developing personal and social skills with these youngsters, they kept together and gave support to their peers encouraging them never to respond to any of the insults or taunts.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

Everything happened really fast and intensively so when we realized what was happening, it was already over. The intensity of the situation became clear when we saw fear in our youngsters face.
I consider this an example of radicalization considering that the behavior of the group of locals approaching us was a result of discrimination and prejudice against a nationality different from their own, triggered by the fact that our team was having a good performance in the event unlike the host team (who had been defeated by Portugal).

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

We took our youngsters from the place as soon as possible, fearing physical aggressions by the group of local inhabitants. The fact that our group did not react to the insults and provocations does not mean that it did not have an impact on group members, because in fact they were afraid, frightened and in the end revolted by the situation that they had experienced. However, as a result of our work with them, the youngsters knew that the insults and provocations they suffered were due to the lack of information and knowledge of the attacking group. The youngsters were accompanied by the whole technical team. The situation was reported to the event organization members and local authorities which end it up underestimating it taking into consideration the context in those days (Brexit, Euro cup).

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

Yes. We felt that our youngsters responded in the best way, not reacting to the provocations. Despite the frightening situation, we felt that it was a test on their personal development and their resilience, self-control and self-confidence (as well as the trust in the staff) were crucial.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

In fact, the situation was not resolved and the aggressors certainly kept having similar attitudes. However, as a group we have learned that despite the humiliating experience, particularly for those affected, the support of our youngster’s peers was crucial to avoid that this bad experience has a greater (negative) impact on themselves and their self-esteem. In similar situations we believe that avoiding confrontation is the best. The fact that the aggressors were in a group galvanizes their behaviour and the confrontation can easily escalate to the physical aggression. Therefore, our position and recommendation is that in similar situations, if possible, contact should be avoided and the situation should be immediately reported to the authorities.

Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?

Radicalization, particularly in sports, is often fuelled by peer pressure and a great lack of information/ ignorance. It is therefore essential to foster education for citizenship and to develop with our youngsters the ability to reflect.

young soccer team

capacity building to exploit sport’s potential

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: Head of the Municipality Office for Youth and Sports

Age: 42

Gender: male

Nationality: Portuguese

Type of radicalization:

Historical period collocation: n/a

Date/Country of the Interview: 26/09/2018, Portugal

Interviewer: Rosto Solidário

Rosto Solidário

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

Head of Municipality Office

There are different kinds of discrimination, not only related with racial issues, which is not that frequent within our territory, fortunately. I’m talking about a very wide range of types of discrimination, based on social, religious, gender and ethnic background. And then we have discrimination based on disabilities or special needs.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

In our municipality you can find a significant number of people with physical and psychological disabilities. The city council tries to ensure that this people access opportunities to play sports by proposing sports programs that matches their skills. The same way we also foster sports within elderly people in a regular basis.
Back to social discrimination we need to acknowledge that in soccer is very usual seeing people mistreating referees and so, through homophobic comments and other kind of hate speech (related to family members, for example). Also race is still a trigger for hate speech specially at the higher levels of completion. But is true that in our days is not as bad as it was back in the eighties.
Our national team is currently including a lot of players that either were born in Lusophone countries and then came to play in Portugal and end it up getting Portuguese citizenship, either others that are second generations from immigrants from countries such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, etc.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

In my perspective people have a lot of prejudice towards people and particularly players who get a European country citizenship. I recall situations that supporters would throw bananas into the field relating black players with monkey.
But as soon as they start getting good results in sports people tend to forget that. Some examples of that are: Pepe who came to Portugal to play in Porto and end it up joining the national team or Ngolo Kante who is currently playing in France.
Fortunately, UEFA is actively seeking to discouraged this kind of behavior through programs like United Against Racism that includes real penalties for those (players and supporters) who show any kind of discrimination.
When someone is watching a match, especially as a group, is common to use assumptions based in race, social group, religions and political values and ideologies to build prejudice and even as a way to speak about a certain player. Example: if a player is Muslim or originally from Middle East you would speak about his performance as “Mohamed this or that”, even if his name is not Mohamed. I think that to a certain point this happens everywhere.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

To ensure that vulnerable and marginalized groups are included and really practice exercise and sports the city council not only has its own programs, projects, initiatives but also seeks to support a paradigm shift in local clubs, teams towards social inclusion of those same groups at all levels.
In addition to that, the city council has been working to raise the profile of adapted modalities such as wheel chair basketball, boccia, etc. Through this programs we also seek to fight discrimination.
Some other relevant initiatives:

  • National Plan for Ethics in Sport – encouraging equality and ethical behaviour within sports.
  • “Soccer for all”: Portuguese Football Federation program.

More than ever teams are opened to host players from all backgrounds. Recently you can find some cases of teams hosting refugees. Nevertheless, supporters and communities can still be very suspicious at the beginning. I think is just because they fear the unknown. In our municipality you would find this about players and board members from Nigeria. But as soon as they get to know the players and build trust in the team that starts to fade away.
Overall I find that our municipality is very welcoming of migrants. For example, regarding sports a group of immigrants from Venezuela recently joined to establish a baseball team. This was a great initiative to help with their integration. Of course we also faced some borderline situations with kids brought from other countries with a promise of a professional career and were deceived. This bring human traffic to our minds and in those cases local authorities need to jump in and act immediately.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

Sports managers and board members are lacking training. We can find evidences of that by, for example, the way that they deal with parents. Currently the connection with parents and the way they seek to engage in their kids’ team is a very relevant challenge. Some parents claim for his or her child to play to all costs. Frequently the parents overcome coacher guidance and disrespect other team members. Most of the times staff doesn’t have the skills to face and manage the situation. Discrimination really starts at home, at the bench.
We’ve come to a point were some clubs started to ban parents from watching the games, particularly in higher level of completion matches. We are in the right track because I do remember many episodes back in my childhood that supporters were violent physically and verbally towards teams and referees and club did nothing.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

Managers, coaches and local teams board members are in a great position to map discrimination or vulnerability situations as they spend so much time with players and are contributing to their educational and learning path. Training and capacity building are crucial to take the most of sport’s potential in fighting inequalities.

Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?

Is important to only to raise awareness in the wider community but also to support financially particularly smaller and local teams to be more inclusive. Of course policies need to follow the same trend and really foster inclusion and municipalities have a strong role to play in keeping advocating for policies and following practices that can really bring inclusion into sports and to fight discrimination and foster (de)radicalization through sports.

young soccers

act immediately to stop radicalization

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: Soccer coach

Age: 41

Gender: male

Nationality: Portuguese

Type of radicalization: social

Historical period collocation: 2016-2018

Date/Country of the Interview: 04/10/2018, Portugal

Interviewer: Rosto Solidário / Reply to Mapping Call

Rosto Solidário

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

coach

I’ve had an experience closer to radicalization that end it up been a lesson learnt to all team members. In my perspective the situation was related to social rivalries between social groups.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

A group of players, led by a specific player, started to become violent towards other team players without a reason. During the practise that specific player yielded at others, calling them bad names and making fun of them every time they missed the ball or failed scoring, which led sometimes to physical confrontations.   The violent behaviour kept happening throughout the sport year and the coach at the time did nothing. Up to today I’m not sure about what trigger the violent episodes.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

At the time I was the assistant coach and wasn’t able to have a say in the way the coach deal with the situation. Moreover, my reading of the situation was that if nothing was done the violence could keep raising and eventually we could lose control of it. Nevertheless, I couldn’t question the coach before the team.
In my perspective radicalization has to do with losing control of a violent situation. In those cases, may times you don’t even get to know what are the triggers of such violence.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

The sports year after this situation started I become the head coach and started to deal with the situation my way. So what I did – with the support of the club board members – reached out for the players who were keeping been violent to others and ask them to either change behaviour or to leave the team. Unfortunately nothing changed and the person leading the violent episodes was expelled. After that the violence within the team ended.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

It was not easy to solve the situation because this kind of behaviour are kind of normalized over time. In additional to that, making a decision “against” it can be seen by other as very radical. Other challenge is to deal with family members when they do not understand the situation and eventually share the same violence triggers.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

In the end the team players were more close to each other. It looks like the person who was leading the violent situations has been trying to have a more positive behaviour. There’s the need to deal with kind of situations with determination so that it is not consider to be normal and ordinary and also not to be out of control.

Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?

It’s crucial to act immediately and stop radicalization from rising. In addition to that there’s the need from the right competences to manage this situation so that all feel justice and not as there if it were victims and/or heroes.

soccer, girls

gender stereotype in youth sport

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: Local team Board members (Soccer – Regional championship)

Age: 38

Gender: male

Nationality: Portuguese

Type of radicalization: gender

Historical period collocation: 2017-2018

Date/Country of the Interview: 30/10/2018, Portugal

Interviewer: Rosto Solidário

Rosto Solidário

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

board member

Currently my daughter is playing soccer in our village team in a gender mixed team. She first started to play last season after an invitation of the club president and I’ve joined the team as member of the board this year.
Despite the fact that it was previously a male team the Club itself has a long tradition of women's soccer. Back in the days, 30 years ago the Club hosted a Women’s soccer team who won several competitions and end it up been well known at the region.
At the beginning the team didn’t had enough players and they would lose most of the games. Losing the games didn’t affect that much the team as the kids really liked to play and the players – boys and girls – were really close to each other.
However, the parents didn’t felt the same way and some of them considered to take away their kids to other teams with better results.
Concerning radicalization situations, I would say that soccer is still a sport when you can see some shows of machismo. Within the younger teams in our club you can’t feel it that much because people still see them as children but as they grown up the levels of competition rises and is more frequent to find some behaviour showing gender stereotypes. Nevertheless, in our team I don’t think we have been seeming it so often. There are only two girl players at the team and all the group and the parents protect them.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

I can share two situations. The first one was told by my daughter and concerns the gender dynamic at the school playground. She is at primary school. Frequently she was left a side in the playground everytime she and the other girl player asked to join the games the boys were having at the soccer field they would say it was because “soccer is not a girl’s sports”. Also at schools some girls – kowing that she plays soccer – told her that she is a tomboy.
The second situation in related to our own club infrastrutures. When she fisrt started playing she couldn’t shower at the club because there was no separate space for gilrs. Currently the shower rooms are still not ready to host mixed teams in a sense that what we have as girls shower rooms is improvised and temporary. With winter things get even worst. I’ve been telling other board members that it should be a priority but not all share the same perspective.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

At the beginning it was also an exercise of acceptance on my side. When she first started to ask me to know and play soccer I wasn’t fully convince it was the best sports for her to play. At the first matches I was really having second thoughts about her playing soccer as she seemed so lost. But in the end of the games she would tell me that she was waiting for the coach instructions. So step by step I started to realize that she really enjoyed what she was doing and the team colleagues and now she really is improving. Last match she was the only player who played during all match.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

At school I felt she found herself a way to overcome the challenges. Back at the club as a parent and has a board member I feel I have a particular responsibility. I’m trying to advocate to equality between girls and boys as I feel that with time as they grow older and the matches get more and more competitive the issues about gender will rise and not in a gender balance direction.
To play soccer under the national or district championship is very expensive and small club struggle to face all expenses. Still, at the club we do have a person who help us with ensuring psychosocial support to players and team members related with frustration and so.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

Since I took this position as a board member I’m always trying to read about related subject, learning from coaches and referees experiences across the country and also at the international level.
Currently as the kids are still so young the kind of comments I’m hearing are in a positive way. People are surprised and find funny to see girls playing at the same level as boys.
Overall, team members and staff are not prepared to manage more complex situation related with discrimination. At our club we try to manage situations as they rise. We don’t have a protocol that tell us exactly what to do.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

At the playground she found a way herself. Usually the soccer field is phased according with grades. After she was denial the right to play by her class mates a couple of times she decided to take her own soccer ball. After she came first and “won” the field and the other kids started to asked her to play she went ahead and negotiated that they could play but only if from now on they would also let her play when she was the one asking. It seems like her strategy worked as she never raised that issue at home again.
At the Club I strongly believe and hope we’ll gently finding ways to be more and more inclusive concerning gender.

Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?

I feel that local clubs are now trying harder to be inclusive and to integrate girls in their teams and also maybe girls are now searching more for places to play. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to walk, from the infrastructures (a lot of clubs where we go to play still face the challenging of not having boys and girls/men and women shower rooms) to the opportunities to give girls in strongly men’s world.
At the higher level championships not only in soccer you still find a lot signs of discrimination based on race, social and economic background.