Racism still a major problem in football, says Commons committee

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Racism, discrimination and a lack of diversity are still major problems within British football, a House of Commons committee report published this week has claimed.

The Culture, Media and Sport committee report found that significant improvements have been made since the 1970s and 80s “when racial and other forms of abuse were common” and that behaviour and the atmosphere at football matches had “changed hugely”.

However, several recent high profile incidents suggest that racism and other forms of discrimination are far from being completely eradicated from the game.

Such incidents include Liverpool’s Luis Suarez being handed an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine by the Football Association last December after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Evra, while ex-England captain John Terry was accused of racially abusing fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand earlier this year, although subsequently found not guilty at a magistrates court.

John Whittingdale MP, who chaired the committee, said: “While the general level of progress in combating racism and racist abuse in the UK is positive, there is much more that can and must be done.

“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.”

However, the committee suggested that a lack of diversity of employment in managerial and back room positions could be holding back efforts to tackle discrimination in British football.

Committee member Steve Rotheram MP said: “Some boards are all-male and all-white with no diversity there, and managers in the top tier of the Premier League and the Championship are almost all white, so there are some glass ceilings that need to be broken down.”

Meanwhile, the report also found evidence that homophobia is becoming a growing problem in football and has now overtaken racism as the main form of discrimination.

The report read: “Recent research found that 25 per cent of fans think that football is homophobic while ten per cent think that football is racist. About 14 per cent of recent match attendees also reported hearing homophobic abuse.”

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