Incidents of discrimination, including racist and homophobic abuse, have increased by 38 per cent within the Premier League and English Football League compared to this time last year, Kick It Out has revealed.
A total of 111 incidents from England’s top four leagues have been reported to the anti-racism body by the midway stage of the current season, with 64 coming from the Premier League.
Amid the forms of discrimination within the professional game, racism once again made up the majority of incidents (51%) followed by homophobia (24%) and anti-Semitism (12%).
Overall, Kick It Out reported a 59 per cent increase in discriminatory incidents across the professional game, the non-league game, grassroots football and social media. The organisation has recorded 282 incidents so far this season, compared to 177 at the midway point of the 2016/17 campaign.
Lord Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, has called on the football authorities to increase their efforts in tackling discrimination across all levels of the sport.
“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,” he said.
“The spike in these mid-season reporting statistics come against the backdrop of rising hatred in our society, as recently shown in Community Security Trust’s publication of reported antisemitic incidents.
“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.”
Lord Ouseley said tackling discrimination must be a ‘collective effort’ (Getty)
Whereas 46 per cent of reported incidents took place within the professional game, just 15 per cent occurred at the grassroots level.
A spokesperson for Kick It Out suggested there was “more confidence” within the professional game with regards to reporting discrimination, hence the disparity between the top level of the sport and grassroots football.
The spokesperson added that “a lack of awareness of reporting methods available across the grassroots level” was preventing more victims from coming forward.
As such, greater proceedings are increasingly being put in place to promote awareness within grassroots football, with the Football Association earlier this year announcing plans to fund two new positions within Kick It Out to promote the organisation’s presence and message across the country.
Premier League clubs lead the way in promoting Kick It Out’s message (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Away from the pitch, 109 of the total 282 incidents reported to Kick It Out since August took place on social media.
However, the organisation acknowledged that this was only “the tip of the iceberg” of football-related abuse online – as highlighted by the body’s social media findings for 2015/16 which showed that 134,200 cases of abuse had been directed to Premier League players and club across the season.
As part of Kick It Out’s statement, Lord Ouseley added: “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.”