Report claims discrimination on rise in English game

Reports of racism and other discrimination in English football rose by 21 per cent last season to 887, according to figures released by the Football Association on Thursday.

AFP| Updated: Sep 04, 2015, 09:01 AM IST
Report claims discrimination on rise in English game

London: Reports of racism and other discrimination in English football rose by 21 per cent last season to 887, according to figures released by the Football Association on Thursday.

The number of complaints dealt with by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out also rose significantly, up 38 per cent to 393.

High-profile incidents during the season included Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli receiving a one-match ban for retweeting an image of racial stereotypes, Stoke defender Robert Huth being banned for two matches for taking part in a transgender guessing game on Twitter, and Wigan owner Dave Whelan`s six-week ban for remarks he made about Jewish people.

It was also revealed that Balotelli had been targeted by 4,000 racist messages on social media.

There were 124 cases reported to the FA, 723 involving the grassroots game, and in terms of the FA incidents, 47 cases involved the professional games.

Mark Ives, the FA`s head of judicial services, said the rise showed people now had confidence in reporting incidents of discrimination.

"The important thing for me is that figures for both reports and convictions continue to rise, as it indicates people have an increased confidence in what constitutes discrimination and how to report it," Ives said.

"At the higher echelons of the game, isolated incidents still occur on the field, and, off the field, and we continue to work closely with clubs when fans engage in discriminatory chanting."

There were 82 reports of racist behaviour reported to the FA compared with 57 the previous season.

There were 20 incidents of homophobic behaviour reported compared with 19, and nine complaints of sexist behaviour by supporters.

Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, said: "At Kick It Out we are particularly concerned about increasing levels of hate crime in wider society, coupled with perceived worrying levels of prejudice, and how this will impact on the work being done across the game to effect zero tolerance of any aspect of discriminatory conduct and prejudiced attitudes.

"We are urging all authorities and agencies to take action, particularly through education, to tackle this phenomenon in a concerted way, not only for the benefit of football but also for the whole of society in the UK."