Documentary reveals police ‘under-report’ racism at matches


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On Monday night some of you will watch a Dispatches documentary on Channel Four. It is called 'Undercover: Hate on the Terraces'.

It does exactly what is says on the tin, and more.

In a week where West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka was suspended, fined, and sent on an education programme after the FA decided his 'quenelle' gesture was anti-Semitic, this documentary could not be more timely.

There have also been high-profile incidents involving Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea defender John Terry, with some fans of both clubs choosing to show support for their idols by engaging in racist behaviour.

In all three cases, the players were heavily punished, by the FA in the case of Suarez, and by both English football's governing body and the clubs with regards to Anelka and Terry. Fans were censured and even prosecuted.

Football is clamping down on discrimination. But the return of racism to English football blind-sided fans and journalists alike, many of whom had come to think that the game – reflecting society in general – had largely managed to eradicate racial abuse.

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However, in times of recession – and with global events adding religion as a divisive factor – there has been a general upsurge in racial invective, on and off the pitch, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

But, despite the return of the old evil, things are a hell of a lot better than they are in Italy, the Balkans, or in 1970s Britain… Right?


Those who attend matches in the lower leagues will not entirely be surprised by the revelations in Monday’s Dispatches documentary – supporters affiliated with extreme-right groups are open in their contempt for non-whites, Muslims and Jews; some don’t even need to be card-carrying neo-fascists to engage in a spot of 'P**i-bashing' or Holocaust hissing.

In some instances there is even some old-fashioned 'n***er-baiting', which is incredible in this day and age.

But what is surprising is how the authorities appear turn a blind eye to it.

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It could be worse - Russian supporters show a Nazi flag at a Cup match between Shinnik Yaroslavl and Spartak Moscow in October 2013

An undercover reporter attends matches across England and finds that mass racist and homophobic chanting is alive, kicking and every bit as menacing as that which led the FA to take on Serbia after a high-profile Under-21 incident a few years ago.

What is most shocking is that, at two Leicester City matches, the reporter is filmed informing stewards – who fail to act – and, when that doesn’t work, the police.

And on both occasions the police inertia is incredible.

One incident shows a Nottingham Forest supporter clearly singing a racist chant in front of a police escort after their match at Leicester. Despite his behaviour being against the law, he is not arrested – he isn’t even warned.

Another incident is perhaps more worrying. In November this season, Millwall fans are clearly recorded chanting – en masse – "you’re just a town full of bombers" and "Taliban, Leicester Taliban", in reference to Leicester’s relatively high Asian population (half of which is Hindu).

When confronted, a steward pretends it isn’t happening and palms the reporter off to police. The policeman appears concerned, and agrees to take the seat number and to report the incident and identify the culprits.

The result? Nothing. No record of an incident or even a complaint. The game, according to Leicestershire Police, had passed without incident.

His boss was initially defensive but, after viewing the footage, embarrassed. He later admitted that police staff may be under-reporting racist incidents at games.

DCC Andy Holt, National Policing Lead on Football Policing said:

"I think there’s potentially under-reporting by police officers and by clubs...

"If a police officer hasn’t done his or her job, and hasn’t reported it correctly and needs additional training, then that‘s something clearly that Leicestershire Police would have to have a look at."

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t believe me, watch the report. There is more, lots more, and it is not just confined to Millwall, not just confined to anti-Muslim or anti-Asian sentiment: Premier League fans are involved, while Jews, black players and gays are all targeted, with families and small children seen joining in.

So when you hear claims that racism is a thing of the past, that it has been kicked out of football, that it's Eastern and Southern Europe's problem and not ours, and when authorities claim a decline in the reporting of such incidents over time, take that with a pinch of salt.

Because there are some things they just don’t want you to know.

On Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

‘Undercover: Hate On The Terraces’ is on Channel 4 this Monday, March 3rd, from 8pm.

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