Racism still rife in English football reveals report

Updated: March 18, 2014

A new survey carried out by anti-discrimination group Kick it Out has revealed more than half of all professional footballers in the English game have been subjected to, or have seen others subjected to, racial abuse in stadiums.

The results of the poll, which was undertaken anonymously by 200 players in both the Premier League and Football League last year, show 57% of players have witnessed, and 24% have been targets of, racist abuse, while 7% have been subjected to, and 20% have witnessed, racist abuse in dressing rooms and training grounds.

The players, of who 32% were from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, also overwhelmingly supported the Player’s Football Association’s (PFA) equivalent of American Football’s ‘Rooney Rule’ will address the derth of black representation in football management.

The survey also reveals more than a third of professional footballers have witnessed homophobic abuse in English stadiums, with a quarter having seen it on training grounds or in the dressing room. More than 90% of footballers also believed discrimination had increased with the growth of social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Kick it Out have worked hard to address the problem of racism and homophobic discrimination, with former Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace midfielder, Paul Mortimer, appointed full-time Professional Player Engagement Manager in February.

The Professional Player Guidance Group also launched its ‘Next 20’ initiative recently, which sees 20 players from the Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League work within the community to educate on issues such as inclusion and equality

The results of the survey will come as a blow, however, revealing as they do that discrimination is still rife in the English game. Despite the worrying figures, Mortimer is confident the issues can now be better addressed, believing there is now an opportunity to come together as “one voice”.

“These statistics show what players see from the pitch and in the training grounds.” Mortimer told Press Association Sport.

”Now we have these figures we can go ahead and do something about it, pinpoint areas and put strategies in place.

 ”It is a huge problem,” he added. ”We have a reporting app which players can report social media abuse on and we also want to educate people how to handle abuse, such as not responding in person.” 

There have been a number of high-profile incidents in recent years, most notably that of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in December 2011, for which he was subsequently given £40,000 fine and an eight match match ban.

In September 2012, the FA also found Chelsea captain John Terry guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers’ defender Anton Ferdinand in a match at Loftus Road on 23 October 2011, and handed him a four-game ban and £220,000 fine.

The FA also punished West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka with a five-match ban recently, after the 35-year-old Frenchman celebrated a goal by performing a “quenelle” salute, a gesture that is seen by many as anti-Semitic in France. WBA dismissed Anelka for gross misconduct on Friday, after the player claimed to have quit the club on Twitter.

Kick it Out have now said the information gained from the survey will be used to build upon the work done by Paul Mortmier and will “enhance” the Guidance Group’s ongoing strategy.

Taken from Kick it Out’s official website, the full survey results reveal:

  • 57% of players have witnessed, and 24% have been subjected to, racist abuse in football stadiums. 7% of players have been subjected to, and 20% have witnessed, racist abuse on the training ground or in the dressing room.
  • 39% of players have witnessed, and 3% subjected to, homophobic abuse in football stadiums. 7% of players have been subjected to, and 26% have witnessed, homophobic abuse on the training ground or in the dressing room.
  • 92% of players thought fan on player discrimination was common or extremely common. 80% felt fan on fan was common or extremely common. 50% thought player on player discrimination was extremely rare or rare. 39% thought player on player discrimination was common or extremely common.
  • 69% of players felt that, due to their profession, they are more exposed to abuse, with 91% agreeing that social media has led to an increase in them receiving discriminatory abuse. They felt these platforms must be policed and monitored more effectively.
  • 65% of players are aware of reporting procedures and are comfortable informing either the Premier League or Football League, the PFA, their club, agent and Kick It Out. They feel The FA and Police should have quicker and more consistent responses with harsher penalties for both fans and players. They also believe that there should be better education for fans who are found guilty.
  • 52% of players agreed that there was an issue around the lack of black and minority ethnic managers and coaches. 62% felt mandatory shortlisting should be in place for black and minority ethnic candidates applying for non-playing jobs in football. 70% believed there should be greater transparency around the recruitment of managers and coaches, and how appointments are made.
  • 86% of players agreed there needs to be an anti-discrimination campaign in football, with 89% saying that they will support future Kick It Out initiatives and events.
  • 92% felt Kick It Out has been effective in raising awareness of racism in football, and 71% agreed the campaign has been effective in tackling the issue. 67% felt Kick It Out has been effective in raising awareness of other issues of discrimination in football, and 55% agreed the campaign has been effective in tackling the issues.


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