ON STAGE: Panel members during the roadshow (Photo credit: David Weight)
THE INAUGURAL Race For Sport roadshow hosted by Leicester-based football club Nirvana has thrown up shocking statistics that should worry all those who are involved in the game.
The roadshow, organised to address the plethora of issues surrounding racism and inequality in football, sought the views of the hundreds of people in attendance through eliciting answers to pertinent questions relating to race and the beautiful game.
A staggering 73 per cent of respondents said they had witnessed or experienced racism in football while 65 per cent had reported an incident of racism to the FA.
Some 77 per cent of respondents were male and 23 per cent female. There was a spread of ages with 48 per cent being between 35 and 64. The Race for Sport campaign, a partnership among The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Nirvana FC, The Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA) and The Voice newspaper, was formed to challenge football authorities to tackle the issue of racism within the national game.
Nirvana FC chairman, Kirk Master, said: “We will progress solutions and partnership seeking to engage those in authority, namely: football clubs, the professional bodies, managers, coaches, players, referees and the media to ensure that equality for all becomes a reality in our lifetime.”
The Race for Football road shows have captured the imagination of hundreds of people in and out of the game. The next event will be staged at Birmingham City FC on a date yet to be confirmed, with other possible venues including Brixton and Reading before the end of the season.
The roadshows will culminate in a major event at the Institute of Education in London on September 25 where key footballers, managers and sports personalities from the US and Europe will meet.
Of the Leicester roadshow attendees, 45 per cent were black British African or black British Caribbean, 24 per cent white British or white other, 13 per cent Asian British Indian, and the remaining 18 per cent of mixed ethnicity.
QUESTION TIME: A delegate poses a question
The respondents had a range of experience in football, with 64 per cent having more than 10 years’ experience in the game
The night’s panel was made up of Colin King (BACA), Rodney Hinds (sports editor, The Voice), Roisin Wood (chief executive of Kick It Out), Peter Herbert (SBL), Keith Murdoch (chief executive of County FA) and Jonathan Mills (National FA).
Understandably, the majority of questions were directed to the FA duo as the audience sought answers from those that purport to run the game in this country.
Disappointingly, bearing in mind that nearly three quarters of those that took part in the information gathering had said that they had witnessed or experienced racism in football, 64 per cent of the respondents found the reporting process to be poor, 32 per cent unsatisfactory and four per cent satisfactory. All the respondents who found the process satisfactory were white British.
Sixty four per cent of respondents have witnessed or experienced racism in football and not reported it to the FA and 10 per cent of respondents abstained from answering.
When asked why they did not report the incidents, 65 per cent said that it was because they did not think they’d be taken seriously and nine per cent said they didn’t know how to report it. Twenty nine per cent of respondents thought racism in football has stayed the same over the last 10 years and a similar percentage thought it had got worse.
Nirvana FC, mainly made up of black and Asian youngsters, made the headlines last year when police launched an investigation into allegations of racial abuse against some of their players by supporters of the opposition team.
Claims were made that some spectators made monkey noises and offensive gestures during an under-15s game at Blaby and Whetstone BC FC.
Nirvana management also said some home team supporters made racist comments and invaded the pitch, threatening violence, after the game, which the visitors won 4-3.
Master said at the time of the incident: "The matters outlined to me are the most graphic I have been made aware of for many years at a junior level. I am disgusted.”