July 24 – Incidents of discrimination in English football, both at grassroots and professional level, rose significantly last season, according to a report by the anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out.
New figures show a 32% increase of discriminatory abuse with 422 incidents reported in 2018/19.
There was also a 43% rise in racism incidents, making it the most common form of discrimination in the game, while reports of faith-based discrimination including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism were up by 75%.
“Football reflects the society it is played and watched in and these figures are sadly not surprising,” said Kick It Out chief executive Roisin Wood.
“The fact that racist reports have risen by 43% clearly shows the massive work that all of football still needs to do to challenge this.
“The sharp increase in faith-based based discrimination is also worrying and represents a challenge to us all – what are we doing to address this intolerance?”
The organisation also received 159 discrimination reports from social media last season, with incidents of racism once again the most common form of abuse (62%).
“The online statistics in our view represent the tip of the iceberg and we renew our call for social media platforms and the government to help tackle growing incidents of online hate.”
Many observers put the new figures down to the effects of Brexit, which has had a major influence on race-related hate crime.
Incidents of racism marred the 2018-19 English season, with Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among several players to face abuse.
The situation is as bad at grassroots level.
“We feel that incidents at grassroots level are still under-reported and this could be due to the length of time it takes a complainant to get their case satisfactorily concluded, and even then there’s often disenchantment in the type of sanctions handed out,” Wood said. “We need to build confidence that if you report a grassroots incident it will be dealt with effectively and efficiently.”
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