In Brief

Football’s ‘wake-up call’ after rise in racist and abusive incidents

Kick It Out’s mid-season report reveals 59% increase from the previous 12 months

A significant rise in the number of discrimination incidents in football should act as a “wake-up call” says the chair of Kick It Out, the sport’s equality and inclusion organisation.

According to its 2017-2018 mid-season study, Kick It Out received 308 reports by the end of last year relating to 282 incidents of discriminatory abuse. This was an increase of 59% from the same period last season (177 incidents). 

Covering the professional game, grassroots football and social media, the report revealed that racist behaviour (54%) was once again the highest reported form of discrimination followed by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (HBT) abuse (22%) and antisemitism (9%).

Football’s professional levels - step four of the National League System and above - saw a 75% rise in the amount of discrimination reports from this time last season. A total of 131 incidents were reported across the men’s and women’s game.

The Premier League made up just under half of the reports received from the professional game (49%), while the English Football League (36%), non-league (14%) and the Women’s Super League (1%) accounted for the rest. Reporting at grassroots level to the organisation saw a small rise (14%), from 37 to 42 incidents.

Lord Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, said it will take a “collective effort” to tackle the rise of hatred within football. He said: “Our latest statistics reveal a significant increase in incidents of discrimination in football, which should act as a wake-up call to everyone in the sport.

“The spike in these mid-season reporting statistics comes against the backdrop of rising hatred in our society, as recently shown in Community Security Trust’s publication of reported antisemitic incidents. These pieces of evidence indicate there is no place for complacency when it comes to challenging prejudice.

“In recent years, the football authorities have improved procedures it has in place to identify and challenge discrimination in the game and we are pleased that more people are aware of the reporting avenues available to them – but we must continue to ensure reporting processes deliver outcomes for perpetrators, as well as victims of hatred in football.

“Ultimately, tackling discrimination must be a collective effort. The leaders across all sections of society and football, as well as the broader public and football supporters themselves, need to take action, report discrimination and help us eradicate hatred.”

Kick It Out 2017-18 mid-season report findings

308 reports from 282 incidents (a rise of 59% from the 2016/17 season, 177 incidents).

Previous mid-season total statistics

  • 2012-13: 53 incidents 
  • 2013-14: 136 
  • 2014-15: 184 
  • 2015-16: 151 
  • 2016-17: 177

Types of discrimination and number of incidents reports in 2017-18

  • Race: 151 (54%) 
  • HBT: 63 (22%) 
  • Antisemitism: 25 (9%) 
  • Disability: 19 (7%) 
  • Sexism: 17 (6%) 
  • Anti-Muslim hatred: 7 (2%)

Levels of football where the incident was reported in 2017-18

  • Professional game: 131 (46%) 
  • Grassroots: 42 (15%) 
  • Social media: 109 (39%)


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