Lifelong Arsenal fan and YouTube star Robbie Lyle explores the issue of racism in football – not just for players on the pitch, but for thousands of fans like him who sit in the stands.
Robbie is the founder and figurehead of Arsenal Fan TV (AFTV), which he started in 2012 to give fans a voice and now has more than 800 million views on YouTube.
“When professional footballers get racist abuse, they can leave the pitch and get home on the team bus whilst the black fan is left in the stands to fend for themselves. When you went to football back in the day as a black fan it was dangerous. Dangerous. It was tough, it was hard, sometimes you were frightened. You stood out like a sore thumb and there were people who wanted to knock your head off only because you were black. It was bleak. I don’t want to see those days return for my children. But sadly I now believe that racism is creeping back into the game.” – Robbie Lyle, AFTV founder
Several high-profile incidents involving players have led to racism returning to both back and front-page headlines. In this programme, Robbie asks how fans across the diaspora – whether black, Asian or from another background – can be expected to cope when they face what seems to be an increase of racism on the terraces.
Cameras follow as Robbie attends his beloved Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, as he reveals he has been racially abused recently and talks to other fans who speak out for the first time about their experiences of racism in football. He also talks about how his experiences as a young black football fan have affected his attitude now he is a father and his concern that while Britain has become increasingly multicultural, racism seems to have crept back onto the terraces and the streets around football grounds.
Robbie Lyle: Football Fans Under Their Skin airs on ITV from Monday 30th March 2020, 10.45pm – 11.45pm