Documents to download

In recent months, several football matches have been disrupted by racist incidents. This included a Euro 2020 qualifying match between Bulgaria and England in October 2019, which had to be stopped twice due to racist chanting aimed at some England players. Bulgaria were already serving a partial stadium ban after some of their fans had been found guilty of racism previously. In the same month, an FA Cup fourth qualifying round match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned after the home team walked off the pitch, alleging racist abuse towards their players.

Recent data provided by the Home Office and Kick It Out suggests that the number of racist incidents in the sport is increasing. However, this has been attributed in part to improvements in reporting such occurrences.

Existing legislation covers some incidents of racism in football in the United Kingdom. For example, under the Public Order Act 1986 it is an offence to use abusive, insulting, or threatening words or behaviour that intends to or causes another person alarm, distress, or harassment. In addition, the Football Spectators Act 1989 provides that certain offences be accompanied by a football banning order. This has been used to prevent violence or disorder in and around football stadiums.

The footballing authorities have also introduced measures to combat racism in football. This includes a three-step protocol to tackle discrimination at football matches, which can lead to referees abandoning the matches. More recently, the FA has introduced a ten-match suspension for coaches and players found guilty of discriminatory behaviour.

Football clubs have also acted to tackle discriminatory behaviour from their own supporters. This has ranged from stadium bans to starting their own education schemes. For example, in January 2019, Chelsea started the ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ scheme, seeking to raise awareness of antisemitism and its impact on the Jewish community and wider society. It also provides one-to-one education courses to supporters.

Despite the measures in place, those involved in the sport have called on footballing authorities to do more. In October 2019, Raheem Sterling, who was one of the English players racially abused in Bulgaria, signed a manifesto calling for “fundamental changes” in how football tackles racism. The manifesto called for further sanctions for racism, beginning with a minimum partial stadium closure rising to expulsion from a competition for repeat offences or for mass discriminatory chanting.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Poverty in the UK: Government policy

    There were approximately 11 million people in the UK in relative poverty (before housing costs) in 2021/22. Many people on low incomes receive cash benefits, such as universal credit, and other benefits such as free school meals. In its levelling up strategy the government set out measures to address poverty; these include increasing the number of high-paying jobs and improving access to good quality education and skills training.

    Poverty in the UK: Government policy
  • Current Affairs Digest: Law (February 2024)

    Sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPPs) were abolished in 2012. However, this abolition did not apply retrospectively to prisoners already serving IPPs. Recent prison population data on IPPs has shown over 1,200 prisoners have never been released. This briefing examines concerns raised by campaign groups, professional bodies and international partners about the impact of IPPs on prisoners’ release prospects and mental health.

    Current Affairs Digest: Law (February 2024)
  • Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill: HL Bill 37 of 2023–24

    The Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill is a government bill which provides the secretary of state for business and trade with the financial authority to make compensation payments to those individuals who were the victims of the Horizon system scandal. It would mean that compensation could continue to be paid under one of the schemes, known as the Group litigation order (GLO) scheme. Currently, the power to pay compensation under this scheme ceases in August 2024. The bill would also allow the secretary of state to pay compensation to individuals in other compensation schemes and arrangements and in respect of other matters identified in High Court judgments given in proceedings relating to the Horizon system, such as the failure by the Post Office to pay suspension pay to postmasters. The second reading of the bill in the House of Lords is due on 16 January 2024. The bill would extend and apply to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It would commence at royal assent.

    Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill: HL Bill 37 of 2023–24