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14 Jul, 2021 13:36

‘You will not be going to the match – no ifs, no buts’: UK PM Boris Johnson announces plans to BAN racist fans from going to games

‘You will not be going to the match – no ifs, no buts’: UK PM Boris Johnson announces plans to BAN racist fans from going to games

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed plans to BAN fans from attending matches if they are found to have engaged in racist behavior online, amid claims that his government hasn't done enough to combat social media trolls.

The United Kingdom and wider football community as a whole have reacted in horror to reports of extreme racist abuse being directed at a trio of England players who missed penalties in Sunday's Euro 2020 final penalty shootout against Italy, with some seeing it as a grim inevitability after sections of England fans jeered their own team throughout the tournament for 'taking a knee' prior to kick-off. 

Johnson's government came under fire for their reactions throughout the tournament, with Home Secretary Priti Patel accused by one member of the England squad, Tyrone Mings, of "stoking the fire" of racism by refusing to criticize fans who opted to boo the pre-match anti-racism gesture.

After a tumultuous few days, Johnson revealed on Wednesday his intentions to add further weight to the Online Safety Bill which was designed to give powers to authorities to combat racism on social media.

"I want to thank each and every one of [the England squad] for what they did, for their incredible campaign they ran in the Euro 2020 championships. And they do represent the very best of our country," Johnson announced in parliament. 

"I repeat that I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night.

"So what we're doing is today taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed, so that if you are guilty of racist abuse online at footballers then you will not be going to the match.

"No ifs, not buts, no exemptions and no excuses."

While it is not clear when Johnson's measures will be implemented, they will provide football authorities with additional power to issue banning orders to offending supporters.

As things stand, racist abuse inside stadiums can lead to bans on attending games – but the new measures will see that extended to social media.

Johnson also indicated that the Bill will target tech companies who don't act in removing racist content from their platforms and potentially make them liable for a fine of 10 percent of their annual turnover.

"Isn't this the equivalent of saying if you speed in your car, you can't go to a car show? An inconvenience, but it's not exactly going to stop you from doing it again," said one football fan in reaction to Johnson's statement, while others also doubted its effectiveness. 

"That doesn't get rid of indoctrinated racism. It starts with parents and educators," wrote another, with a third condemning the plan as little more than an "empty gesture".

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