Racist abuse rose by 43% last season, figures show

MANCHESTER, JUL 24 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 7/24/2019 12:25:23 PM IST

The rise in reports of racist abuse in football can be linked to Brexit, Kick It Out chief Roisin Wood has claimed, reports BBC Sports.

Statistics gathered by the anti-discrimination charity showed reports of racism in English football rose by 43% - from 192 to 274 - last season. “I think you can’t not link them together,” Wood told BBC Sport.

“We’re seeing a lot of reports of ‘go back to where you came from’ which we haven’t seen for a while which seems to be on the back of Brexit.”

Factoring in all forms of discrimination, reports of abuse in professional and grassroots football increased by 32% to 422, up from 319 during 2017-18. A further 159 reports were received via social media.

Reports of faith-based discrimination - including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism - rose by 75% from 36 to 63, a higher percentage than any other form of abuse during the period. It is the seventh consecutive year reported incidents of discrimination within football have increased, and the 581 total reports is more than double the figure from five years ago.

“If we’re seeing a rise in hate crime, the Home Office is seeing a rise in hate crime and other bodies are seeing a rise in hate crime, it’s linked because that’s what is going on in society at the moment. If it’s there, we’ll see it in football,” Wood added.

“In some of the cases we have seen, there is a real hatred there which we haven’t maybe seen as much of in the past where it’s really violent and very targeted, particularly on social media.

“Some of the social media reports we’ve seen you wouldn’t want anyone to see.

“We’re talking to people all the time that feel, post-Brexit, that ‘maybe this country isn’t for me’.

“[Politicians] have to take that responsibility very seriously, they are the leaders of the country and they need to set the tone. Society is reflected in football.”

Responding to the figures, which also showed that reports of abuse in the professional game had increased by 46%, the Football Association said it had made “huge strides” in recent years to ensure English football is a “diverse and inclusive” game. This includes a new inclusion plan - ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ - which aims to “create opportunities in football, both on and off the pitch, for people of all backgrounds”, as well as funding two extra grassroots officers, based at Kick It Out, who work directly with the County FA network.

“We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and encourage all fans and participants who believe that they have been the subject of, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report it through the appropriate channels: the FA, our County FA network or via our partners at Kick It Out,” the FA’s statement added. Kick It Out says the FA has not informed them of the outcome in 79% of the 109 discrimination cases reported in grassroots football - 40% of which were from under-18 football. Incidents of racism marred the 2018-19 season, with Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among several players to face abuse.

In December, Manchester City and England forward Sterling suffered alleged racist abuse from Chelsea fans during City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and followed that the next morning with an Instagram post in which he questioned newspapers’ portrayal of black players and said it fed prejudice and aggressive behaviour. In March, Sterling was vocal in condemning the racist abuse received by England players during their 5-1 win in Montenegro as well as offering support to his younger team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi.

And in April he was quick to call out Leonardo Bonucci when the Juventus defender suggested that his team-mate Moise Kean was partly to blame for the racist abuse he received from Cagliari fans.

He was presented with his Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award in the same month, with FWA chair Carrie Brown citing his public stance on racist abuse as being just as important as his exploits on the pitch.


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