September 4 – Reports of discrimination across all levels of professional football in England and Wales rose by an alarming 42% last season despite the campaign being halted for months due to Covid-19.
The anti-racism organisation Kick It Out says there were 446 reports of discrimination in the 2019-20 season, up from 313 in the previous campaign, while reports of racial abuse increased by 53%. There were also 117 reports of abuse based on sexual orientation – a 95% rise.
Players taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before kick-off has become de rigueur but judging by the latest racism findings it may not have the desired effect in the future.
“This year the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd turned the world on its head,” said Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari .
“Football responded positively with clubs increasing their work in the community and with the players symbolizing the demand for greater equality of opportunity, by taking a knee.
“But beneath the surface, hate and division in society remains a lurking pernicious threat.”
“Our reports indicate a steep rise in discrimination reports over the last two years, which reflect the hate crime statistics from the Home Office that show marked national increases over the last four years.”
Before fans were denied access to stadiums last season, there were several instances of homophobic chants at Premier League games towards a raft of players.
Whether the fallout over Brexit – and the entrenched views that go with it – was partially responsible for the rise in instances, especially on social media, has not been established.
But it’s a worrying trend just the same.
“Social media can be a battleground of hate. We need to work together across society to win this battle,” said Bhandari
“We need better regulation and enforcement and we need social media companies to be part of the solution. We need clubs and governing bodies to continue to lobby for change, sanction offending supporters and support law enforcement processes with the provision of evidence.”
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