Kick It Out has revealed that it received a ‘shocking’ increase in reports of racist and homophobic abuse in professional football last season – despite hundreds of matches being played behind closed doors or postponed due to the pandemic.
There were 446 incidences abuse reported in 2019-2020 – a 42% increase from the previous season. Reports detailing racist abuse increased 53% from 184 to 282, and Kick It Out received 117 reports of abuse based on sexual orientation up from 60 last season – a 95% increase. However, some forms of discrimination based on religion and gender have decreased.
In a press release calling the numbers “shocking,” Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said the results painted a worrying picture. “This year, the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd shook the world. Football has responded positively with clubs increasing their work in the community and with players symbolizing the demand for greater equality of opportunity, taking a knee. But beneath the surface, hatred and division in society remains a pernicious threat lurking.
A separate YouGov poll for Kick It Out, which surveyed more than 1,000 fans, found that 30% of them had witnessed or heard racist comments or chants during a game in 2019 and 71% had seen racism on social networks directed against a footballer. The survey also found that 32% of fans said they had witnessed homophobic comments during a game..
Bhandari said, “Our reports indicate a sharp increase in reports of discrimination over the past two years, which mirror the Interior Ministry’s hate crime statistics that show marked national increases over the past four years. But as our YouGov poll also confirms, we know the reports at Kick It Out are just the tip of the iceberg.
“We need to bring together data on Kick It Out, clubs, law enforcement, governing bodies and others in order to have a complete picture to give us a greater chance to come up with better solutions together. We urge these organizations to share data to create better information. “
Bhandari also warned that hatred on social media continued to increase significantly and called for better regulation and enforcement by governments and police. “As our YouGov poll results show, social media can be a battleground for hate,” he said.
“We have to work together across society to win this battle. With the football season hiatus earlier this year due to Covid-19, we’ve seen people use social media to spread hate messages, especially when they can’t attend games. Football and social media can be a positive force, but in order to fight hate online, everyone needs to do more.
“We need better regulation and better enforcement and we need social media companies to be part of the solution. We need clubs and governing bodies to continue to push for change, sanction offending supporters and support law enforcement processes by providing evidence. We need the players to continue to use their powerful voices. We all need to do more. We all need to take a stand. “
At the base level, 94 reports were reported against 113 in 2018-2019, a decrease of 14%. However, all March 2020 base matches were canceled due to Covid-19 and therefore, when comparing last season with the equivalent period of the previous season, there was an 11% increase in reports. .