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Football doing 'nothing to tackle racism'

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Racism in British football is still rife, according to research by an academic.

Loughborough University's Dr Jamie Cleland said more than 80 per cent of fans who took part in a study believed racism was still endemic in British football, while half said they had experienced racism in the past two years.

The criminology lecturer said football's governing bodies and anti-racist organisations, such as Kick It Out, were contributing to a culture of complacency, and racism had been "disregarded" or "suppressed" to "give the impression it had been eradicated".

His comments came following an anonymous online poll of 2,500 fans across the country.

"Our findings show fans feel governing bodies are not doing anything meaningful to tackle racism and that football remains a white institution, from the heads of FIFA, UEFA and the FA, through to club owners, directors, referees and fans," Dr Cleland said.

"The data backs up previous studies which argue that a 'colour blind' ideology now exists in football due to the failure of the governing bodies and anti-racist organisations to acknowledge the extent of racism, which is subsequently allowing it to flourish.

"Fans want the powers-that-be to enforce racial equality initiatives and take severe action against anyone who breaks the code of conduct."

Dr Cleland said his study also showed fans wanted stronger leadership from the governing bodies and a zero-tolerance stance, with points deductions, bigger fines and life-bans introduced for supporters found guilty of a racist act.

He said one fan had described the FA's Kick It Out campaign as little more than a "T-shirt wearing exercise".

He said: "Football seems out of sync with Britain's multicultural environment.

"British society has reached some accommodation with its ethnically diverse population and its religious plurality. Football, it seems, has not."

Kick It Out director Roisin Wood said the body was there to campaign, educate and raise awareness of discrimination and not to dish out fines and sanctions.

He said: "The notion of Kick It Out as nothing more than T-shirts and slogans doesn't reflect our true role, which many people in the game acknowledge.

"Developing different systems for the reporting of incidents of discrimination, including the launch of our app next month, will assist communities and individuals to address discrimination."

Dr Cleland conducted his research in collaboration with Professor Ellis Cashmore of Staffordshire University.

The study was published online this week.

Youth football team Nirvana FC, a club which prides itself on the multicultural make-up of its members, helped host a national roadshow about racism and inequality in football.

Club chairman Kirk Master said: "What's not being made evident by the football authorities is letting the public know how much racism does exist in football," he said.

"They are trying to sweep it under the carpet, making people blind to the issue."

The Race for Sport roadshow, which Kick It Out attended, will also be held in Birmingham and Reading.

Kirk said projects such as the roadshow meant people were more likely to report incidents of racism than they would have been a year ago.

"They're still very much aware that not much will happen with it, that it won't be taken with the full respect it deserves, however they think 'I'm still going to say it' when maybe before they would not," he said.

Football doing 'nothing to tackle racism'


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