Fans and charities have shared concerns about racism at England’s upcoming international friendlies, saying the first two weeks of domestic football have been “soured” by hate.
Kick it Out, an independent charity that campaigns against racism and discrimination, made the comments following the first two weeks of football in the premier league.
The charity raised worries about possible behaviour of fans at England’s upcoming international fixtures.
Kick it out CEO, Tony Burnett, said: “Football can change quickly. You can be singing and high fiving one minute, and the next minute that same stranger is chanting something homophobic or booing your own players for standing up to racism.
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“Setbacks like these can make it difficult to see how far we have come, but they shine the light on where the game needs to improve.
Burnett added: “I am disappointed by some of what I have seen these first couple of weeks back in stadiums.”
The CEO said he was “encouraged by the new generation of leaders developing within football, across management, ownership, supporters, and players” who are “crafting new ways to drive change”.
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Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation, working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.
(Image: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)
A YouGov poll found over seventy percent of football fans said they feel racism is a problem in football.
This percentage has increased since events at the 2021 Euros.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were all met with a torrent of racist abuse online following the game.
Following the tournament, Prince William came out to condemn the racism Black players received because of their missed penalties.
A mural of Rashford in his home town of Wythenshawe in Manchester was defaced with graffiti before being covered with messages of support.
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Seven in 10 football fans in England now think that professional English football has a serious problem with racism, a rise of 17 per cent since the start of the tournament in June.
With the next international games are about to restart, fans of the sport also worry it has become “a breeding ground for racism and bigotry”.
The fan, who left an anonymous comment after taking the survey, said: “Football is a breeding ground for racism and bigotry. Young men go to the game and are influenced by an older generation of fans who still think discrimination is OK”.
It’s not just the fans that English football needs to be worried about.
Referee and secondary school teacher, Shaakir Uddin, spoke to the BBC about racism he experienced on the pitch, he said: “I was refereeing a game and was being observed as well. I sent a player off and he called me an effing P***.
“I was quite taken aback by it. It was my first year in refereeing and I thought, ‘is refereeing actually like this, what’s the point in carrying on? Why should I come out on a cold winter’s day and take this abuse?’”
Shockingly, only two per cent of fans think racism doesn’t exist at all in English football, a great signpost of how damaging the Euros were for opinions on the beautiful game.
The chair of Kick it Out, Sanjay Bhandari, said: “I am a fan, and while I won’t have had the experience that a player will have had of racism on a pitch, I’ve had my experience of racism in life and on the terraces. So I definitely want to work with the players.
“The players can be a really massive active force for good and I would love to work with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ian Wright and former players because I think they’re the catalyst for change.”
Kick it Out continues to work to create a game without discrimination. To learn more about how they are doing this, and to report a racist incident, visit here.
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