Record number of discrimination reports in soccer, says report

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Record number of discrimination reports in soccer, says Kick It Out.— Photo Illustration by Alicia Tatone
Record number of discrimination reports in soccer, says Kick It Out.— Photo Illustration by Alicia Tatone

Anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out has reported that there has been an alarming increase in reports of discriminatory behaviour during the 2022/23 soccer season. 

The organisation received a record-breaking 1,007 reports, marking a significant 65.1% surge compared to the previous year. These reports encompass incidents of discrimination from professional games, social media platforms, and grassroots soccer.

Of particular concern is the rise in discrimination reports within the professional game, which includes the Premier League, English Football League, domestic cups, European and international competitions, Women’s Super League, and Women’s Championship. These reports experienced a 27.4% increase, reaching a total of 484 cases, as stated by Kick It Out.

Established in 1993 as an anti-racism body, Kick It Out expanded its focus to include all forms of discrimination in 1997. In the recently released data, the organization revealed that racism accounted for 49.3% of all the reported incidents during this period.

The reporting period also unveiled a fourfold increase in reports of sexist and misogynistic behaviour, rising from 16 to 80 cases. Kick It Out highlighted that this increase was intensified by a surge in online abuse targeted at female players and supporters. 

Additionally, reports of Islamophobic incidents increased by 300%, although there was a slight decrease in faith-based discrimination overall.

Social media abuse witnessed a staggering 279% rise compared to the previous season, constituting 28% of the total reporting, a 15.9% increase from 2021/22.

At the grassroots level, 43.4% of the reports originated from games involving under-18s or younger players, with racism accounting for over half of the reported incidents.

In response to the findings, a Premier League spokesperson emphasized their commitment to combatting discriminatory and racist abuse in football and society as a whole. They acknowledged the need for ongoing efforts to address the issue. 

Similarly, an English Football Association spokesperson expressed disappointment regarding the rise in discrimination and misogyny cases. They emphasized the importance of reporting incidents to enable appropriate actions against the perpetrators.

Kick It Out noted that the increasing reports per discriminatory incident rate for the fourth consecutive year reflect a growing inclination among fans to report instances of discrimination. Tony Burnett, the CEO of Kick It Out, highlighted the alarming rise in reports and emphasized the organization’s determination to tackle discrimination comprehensively. He called upon fans, clubs, leagues, and governing bodies to join forces in addressing this issue. Burnett also stressed the need for a centralized discrimination reporting mechanism in soccer to confront it with full force.

The numbers presented by Kick It Out provide only a snapshot of the extensive scale of discrimination, further underscoring the necessity for unified action within the sport.

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