Two surveys highlight the continuing presence of fan racism in English professional football and the need to focus greater attention on efforts to eradicate the problem.
The Times newspaper (UK) reports a survey in which 41 per cent of supporters polled claim to have seen or heard racial abuse, particularly racist chanting, in the last two years. A further 27 per cent had done so in the last five years, whilst only 32 per cent believed that racism on the terraces had been “practically eliminated”.
The paper describes the problem of terrace racism as “endemic”.
Also available are UK Home Office arrest statistics, which show a low rate of arrests in the game generally – only 0.01% of those attending football – but an increase in 57% in the number of arrests for racism, up from 47 to 74 arrests.
Whilst both statistics show a continuing problem gives cause for concern, the numbers are also seen as an indicator of successful work in raising awareness of the issue amongst fans and of a slow but sure change in action by police forces.
A rise in reporting and arrests is a positive sign say UK campaign, Kick It Out.
Piara Powar, Director of Kick It Out, said,
”The problems of fan racism as revealed by both of these sets of statistics are not new. They do however demonstrate the need to overcome complacency and ensure the battle against racism continues through a mix of educational, stewarding and policing measures.”
“All those with a stake in the game – fans, clubs, the governing bodies and police – have a responsibility to ensure that football stadiums and their immediate vicinity are free of racial attacks. Growing awareness of the problems, and measures such as better training of stewards are assisting that process.”
“The rise in police arrests, although still pitiful, is to be welcomed. Until arrest figures match the reality of the problem, fans and players will not have the confidence to make reports and black and Asian fans will continue to stay away.”