Open Access

Racism and Xenophobia in Spanish Football: Facts, Reactions and Policies


Contrary to what is sometimes supposed, racism is not a phenomenon of the past. In fact, it is one of the major challenges of the present and future in Europe and Spain. Besides providing an incomparable sense of belonging, football stadiums are also an excellent platform to express racist and xenophobic attitudes and behaviours. In Spain, for years many players have suffered abuse and insults, although it is black and ethnic minority players who receive the most harassment. Thus, the problem of racism has increased recently in Spanish football, as shown by the emission of monkey noises toward black players and the use of racist slogans and symbols in the stadiums.

This paper analyses the forms of racism and xenophobia in Spanish football, as well as the actions promoted and carried out by various institutions and agents to prevent and reduce these types of behaviour. The aim of this paper is to make a contribution based on figures and reflections on the types of racism and xenophobia in the world of football in Spain. The article is divided into three major parts. The first reviews some concepts of the scientific study of racism and xenophobia, placing them in the context of Spanish football. The second contains an overview of racism in European football and describes the situation in Spain, providing some empirical data about its incidence in recent years. The third and final section presents a classification and analysis of different antiracist reactions, actions and initiatives carried out recently in Spain with the aim of combating racism in Spanish football.