Ar­rests for racist and in­de­cent chants dou­ble

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Ducker NORTH­ERN FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Ar­rests for racist and in­de­cent chant­ing in English foot­ball more than dou­bled last sea­son, de­spite the coro­n­avirus cri­sis deny­ing fans ac­cess to more than 500 matches, ac­cord­ing to a Home Of­fice re­port.

In a trou­bling turn of events, it has emerged that there were 35 such ar­rests for 2019-20, com­pared to 14 in 2018-19, even though a to­tal of 546 games were ei­ther can­celled or played be­hind closed doors.

The re­port also logged for the first time ev­ery hate crime in­ci­dent – whether on­line or in per­son – which was re­ported to the UK Foot­ball Polic­ing Unit by the equal­ity and in­clu­sion body, Kick It Out, or the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

It found that there were hate­crime in­ci­dents re­lated to 287 matches, a fig­ure which was sec­ond only to the use of py­rotech­nics at 309 fix­tures and which the coun­try’s foot­ball po­lice chief branded “in­cred­i­bly con­cern­ing”.

The in­ci­dents re­ported of­ten in­cluded more than one form of dis­crim­i­na­tion, with the re­port doc­u­ment­ing that 75 per cent of the of­fences re­lated to race and 27 per cent to sex­ual iden­tity. Of the hate crimes, 23 men­tioned re­li­gion, three re­lated to dis­abil­ity and one to gen­der iden­tity.

Con­cern was also raised about the num­ber of re­ports of as­saults on sta­dium staff and po­lice of­fi­cers, which were only just be­low the 2018-19 lev­els, de­spite the mass re­duc­tion in fan at­ten­dance. In to­tal, there were 120 re­ports of sta­dium staff be­ing as­saulted last sea­son, only five fewer than the fig­ure for the pre­vi­ous year. There were 46 re­ports of po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing at­tacked com­pared to 57 in 2018-19.

Mark Roberts, deputy chief con­sta­ble of South York­shire Po­lice and the UK’s foot­ball po­lice chief, said: “The hate crime fig­ures are in­cred­i­bly con­cern­ing. We want to see this be­hav­iour erad­i­cated from foot­ball. We are work­ing closely with Kick It Out, the Pre­mier League and other part­ners, with a con­certed ef­fort to tackle hate crime both in the sta­dium and on­line.

“It is im­por­tant the clubs and the leagues con­tinue to en­sure the po­lice are made aware of all in­ci­dents so lo­cal forces can work with them to tackle the in­ci­dents.

“We are also work­ing to help tackle the causes of hate crime, with a mix­ture of ed­u­ca­tion, help­ing those in­volved to un­der­stand the harm it causes, and di­ver­sion­ary ac­tiv­i­ties for young sup­port­ers. This will re­main a fo­cus un­til we are able to elim­i­nate this vile be­hav­iour.”

The Home Of­fice re­port also looked at ban­ning or­ders and other foot­ball-re­lated ar­rests and found there were 1,089 foot­ball-re­lated ar­rests in 2019-20, a 21 per cent drop on the pre­vi­ous year, al­beit with far fewer games played in front of fans.

Leeds United had the worst record, with 52 ar­rests, fol­lowed by Birm­ing­ham City (49) and Bolton Wan­der­ers (45).

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