Soccer Discrimination Surges : Anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out has disclosed that it received an unprecedented number of reports regarding discriminatory behavior during the 2022/23 soccer season. The organization recorded a staggering 65.1% increase compared to the previous year, with a total of 1,007 reports encompassing incidents from the professional game, social media platforms, and grassroots soccer.
Rise in Discrimination Reports
Discrimination reports specifically from the professional game, including renowned leagues like the Premier League, English Football League, domestic cups, European and international competitions, Women’s Super League, and Women’s Championship, witnessed a notable surge of 27.4% to reach a total of 484 cases.
Kick It Out, originally established in 1993 as an anti-racism body before expanding its focus to cover all forms of discrimination, disclosed that racism accounted for 49.3% of all reports received during the reporting period.
Increase in Sexist and Misogynist Behavior
One concerning finding was a significant 400% increase in reports of sexist and misogynist behavior, rising from 16 incidents to 80. Kick It Out emphasized that this spike was exacerbated by a sharp rise in online abuse targeting female players and supporters.
Islamophobic Reporting and Faith-Based Discrimination
The reporting of Islamophobic incidents exhibited a noteworthy 300% increase. However, there was a slight decrease in reports of faith-based discrimination overall.
Surge in Social Media Abuse
Social media abuse displayed a staggering surge of 279% compared to the previous season, constituting 28% of the total reported cases. This represents a 15.9% increase from the previous year.
Grassroots Soccer and Under-18s
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 these incidents.
Response from Premier League and English Football Association
CNN Sport has reached out to the Premier League for comment, but no immediate response has been received. The English Football Association spokesperson expressed disappointment regarding the increase in discrimination and misogyny cases. The spokesperson emphasized the importance of reporting such incidents to the relevant authorities in order to take necessary action against the perpetrators.
Kick It Out’s Perspective
Kick It Out highlighted that the rate of reports per discriminatory incident has been consistently increasing for the fourth consecutive year, indicating a growing willingness among fans to report instances of discrimination. Tony Burnett, the CEO of Kick It Out, expressed concern over the alarming rise in reports across the game, reinforcing the organization’s dedication to comprehensively tackle discrimination. He called for the support of fans, clubs, leagues, and governing bodies, noting the encouraging trend of higher reports per incident, suggesting a reduced tolerance for discriminatory behavior and an increased inclination to report abuse.
Burnett acknowledged that Kick It Out’s numbers provide only a snapshot of the full extent of discrimination, underscoring the necessity of a centralized discrimination reporting mechanism within soccer to effectively address the issue. The organization stressed the significance of collective efforts from the entire sport to combat discrimination with maximum impact.