Racism ‘widespread’ in English football, investigation reveals

Reuters / Dylan Martinez
Racism remains widespread in English football, a new study shows. The investigation, including data from 24 police forces across the country, reveals there have been more than 350 race-related incidents in the game since 2012.

As the investigation only accounts for around half of UK police forces, the real figure is likely to be far higher.

Chelsea FC fans have been involved in the highest number of racist incidents, while traveling to and from matches, with over 15 cases, British Transport Police (BTP) revealed.

The figures come after a video emerged online showing a black man being prevented from boarding a train by Chelsea fans in Paris while they sang racist songs.

Manchester United and Leeds fans came joint second with 10 incidents each, followed by West Ham with eight, Portsmouth with four, and Arsenal also with four.

Greater Manchester Police reported an incident involving a man cleaning a stadium toilet being told “that’s a f**king black man’s job, you f*cking n*****.

READ MORE: Rising anti-Semitism in British football, says sport watchdog

Gavin Sutherland, campaign coordinator at Show Racism The Red Card, says the data “shows football clubs have taken strong action against people using racist language inside stadiums.”

The offending football fans appear to be exhibiting racist behavior “away from football grounds,” Sutherland said.

However, he said the rise in racism in football “may influence the behavior” of the youths exposed to it, which he finds “frightening.”

Sutherland said reported incidents are just “part of the picture,” adding “there will certainly be a greater number of unreported and under investigated cases.

Racism is a real problem within society,” he said.

Underreported incidents

In one underreported incident in February, an African-Caribbean man took to Twitter to describe how he “suffered racist abuse” while watching a Spurs match with his sister.

@WeapzAFC claimed he was “forced out of the stadium” and met with “feeble police attempts” to separate him from violent fans.

Saying that he was simply trying to protect his sister, he says he approached one of the offenders. “At no stage did I threaten or intimidate him,” he said.

I was then dragged by my hood and thrown to the floor, knocking the back of my head on the pavement,” he said.

I asked who threw me on the floor, and I was informed it was a police officer.”

He allegedly received “a series of punches and kicks to the ribs.”

He said the officer told him: “I hate c*nts like you.”

When placed in a police van, he watched his sister being “harassed” by fans through the window. “I was pleading for officers to let her in the van,” he added.

In response, he was allegedly told to “shut the f**k up.”

He told RT: “They’re accusing me of assaulting a police officer.” He will appear in court at the end of June.

Still demanding justice, he told his Twitter followers that he would plead not guilty, but thanked them for their support.