More than half of fans worldwide have witnessed racist abuse at games, study reveals

More than fifty percent of football fans around the world have witnessed racist abuse at a match, a new report has revealed.

A study by Kick It Out and Forza Football, the live-score app, surveyed more than 27,000 fans and found that 54 per cent of the sport’s fans have observed racist abuse at a game. Despite this, only 28 per cent said they would know how to appropriately report such incidents.

Internationally, 61% of fans would support points deductions for national or club teams whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse - for example, Chelsea having points deducted following their game in Paris in 2015.

In the UK, the study revealed that 50 per cent of fans had observed incidents of racism at a game and less than half (40 per cent) knew how to report it. In the US the figures are at 51 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.

Other key findings from the study, which is the largest of its kind ever conducted, include that fans from Ghana (83%), Colombia (77%), and Nigeria (75%) are most in favour of deducting points from teams whose fans commit racist abuse. Those least in favour of such a policy were Russian fans (34%), Ukrainian fans (42%), and Dutch fans (45%).

In terms of acceptance, fans in Norway (95%), Sweden (94%), and Brazil (93%) were found to feel most comfortable with a player of different ethnic / racial background representing their national or club team. Fans in Saudi Arabia (11%), Lebanon (15%), and the UAE (19%) felt least comfortable.

When it came to Europe's biggest five leagues, 93% of French people, 92% of Brits, 77% of Germans and Spaniards, and 71% of Italians reported feeling comfortable with a player of a different ethnic or racial background representing their national or club team. This figure for the US is 91%.

Fifty-four per cent of fans from the UK said they would support regulations to improve opportunities for ethnic/racial minority candidates applying for jobs at football clubs, which comes following similar legislation being brought in by the FA, while 64 per cent felt the same in the US.

Lord Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out said: “The research is a timely reminder of both the progress that has been made in tackling racism in football, and the challenges that remain. There is clear global trend towards an acceptance of the BAME community’s central role in football, but further progress is unlikely to be made until governing bodies are bolder in their efforts to eradicate racism from every level.

“The governing bodies, including The FA, UEFA and FIFA, must do more to promote methods of reporting racism and they must listen to supporters’ demands – clubs or countries whose supporters are racially abusive should face harsher sanctions, including points deductions."

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