On May 2 Leicester City became Premiership League champions in what marked their first top-level championship win.
If you asked any Leicester fan if they pictured their foxes holding up the trophy at the start of the season I guarantee you that they would all have laughed in your face.
Now we stand as proud bearers of the LCFC crest, and the city seems rejuvenated as a result, but one question has been raised at the University of Leicester: could Leicester’s sporting success kill off racism?
Since Leicester has been plunged into the media lime-light all sorts of issues have been raised and being one of the most diverse cities within Britain, housing people from all walks of life, this success could have a positive impact on tackling racism.
University of Leicester’s sports sociologist, John Williams, said that he believes football has reduced the public focus on racism in England because of the way in which the game has globalized.
“Racism does exist in football and sometimes it is strategic – for example opposing fans use racism to try to gain an advantage by putting players off their game or abuse rival supporters,” said Mr Williams.
” But there is also racism that is deep-seated and rooted in those old types of stereotypes of racial difference.
“Even though we do not see large numbers of Asian and black people in the stands as fans, we see black players on the pitch.
“Leicester City has a global squad and that has had a generally positive impact on racism.
“The fact that clubs now have players from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds has made people rethink the issue of racism.
Mr Williams hopes that the community engagement following Leicester’s successs will mean that King Power stadium will be seating a much more diverse crowd of home supporters in the future.
“Winning has touched different communities in the city and many new communities have gotten very excited about Leicester’s success,” said Mr Williams.
“I think that via interest in the football club is one important way that their own identities will connect to the city, and so they are part of the wider group of people who are taking an interest in the club and they are very proud to be living in a city that is hosting the Premier League champions.
“It is good for people who have just arrived and may feel the city is a bit new and a bit strange to them.”
Mr Williams, who sits on the Race Equality Advisory Group for football in Leicestershire, carried out a recent survey on crowd differentiation between the two major professional sports clubs in the city, Leicester Tigers and Leicester City FC.
The crowds at the tigers was recorded to attract much more of an affluent south Leicester suburbs individual, whereas the foxes brought in a younger more city based crowd.
However, what Mr Williams found most striking was how few sporty Leicester-born Asian children claim to be supporters of Leicester City, with many preferring to back larger clubs that are frequently shown on TV.
The reason for this are not too difficult to work out,” said Mr Williams.
“Older, local Asian have not usually been active City fans, initially because of a lack of a local connection or club welcome, and fears about racism.
“Times have changed, but they have not passed on active local football support to their kids and their sporting interests may have been divided – including on cricket, perhaps.
“But what is happening this season offers potential future intrigue: because Leicester City are beginning to look a lot like potential long term winners, which could mean more South Asian youngsters combining a craving for success with a new demand to attend safely at their local, Europe- bound football club.”
By Imogen Harry