Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

FA backs call to battle racism

Fans parade a banner saying 'show racism the red card' before a game kicks off
Fans parade a banner saying 'show racism the red card' before a game kicks off

The Football Association has backed a call by MPs for more work to be done in combating racism in the game.

The FA had been urged to "take the lead" over the problem.

The recommendation came from John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon, who chaired an inquiry by the Commons culture, media and sport committee following high-profile incidents last season.

Its report found that football's authorities need to do more to tackle racism and discrimination in the game. It found racism is much less common than in the past, but that "significant problems" remain including homophobic abuse, with social media such as Twitter being a new platform for abuse.

Mr Whittingdale said: "Recent incidents of racist abuse in the UK, both on and off the pitch, have highlighted the fact that there remain significant problems. We heard evidence that social media has become a tool for the spread of racist and abusive content, but it is also a potential means of combating the ignorance and prejudice that lie behind such behaviour.

"We believe that the football authorities should be using this developing forum for communication and debate to spread positive messages about equality and diversity, and also to speak out strongly against instances of racist abuse when they occur. More needs to be done to increase the diversity of the pool of candidates for coaches and referees, to embed the values of equality and diversity at all levels of the game.

"While the general level of progress in combating racism and racist abuse in the UK is positive and should be applauded, there is much more that can and must be done, and we believe it is for the FA to take the lead and set the example for everyone, from football authorities at all levels to the grassroots groups, to follow."

In response to the report the FA released a statement which read: "We welcome the report from the CMS select committee into Racism in Football. We agree with the committee that whilst substantial progress has been made to promote equality and tackle discrimination in the game, challenges remain for all of the football authorities.

"We remain committed, along with all of our stakeholders, to promoting equality and diversity within the game and to the eradication of all forms of discrimination in football. We will continue to work across the entire breadth of the sport to deliver our inclusion and anti-discrimination agenda. In doing so, we will consider in detail how the committee's recommendations can support and influence this work."

The committee's report recommends that the FA should make it a priority for stewards and club staff to be trained to deal with abuse at club grounds, and to use social media to condemn discrimination. It also said prosecutions in cases of racial abuse at league and club level are "extremely welcome" but similar efforts should be applied to the grassroots game.

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