Two high profile allegations of racist abuse in Premier League matches have dominated much of the sports news agenda, with Metropolitan Police and Football Association investigations into the allegations ongoing.
Unfortunately the problems are not exclusive to the upper echelons of the game. A Club Website poll has revealed that almost one third of the grassroots football community has witnessed some form of racism at their local football matches in the last 12 months.
Over 2,000 Club Website members were polled and, for the second successive year, 32 percent reported having witnessed racism at a grassroots football match at some point in the last year.
Former Aston Villa star Earl Barrett, now a Kick It Out ambassador, described the results as “very disappointing”.
“Even one incident would be disappointing,” Barrett told Club Website. “It just goes to show that, although we’ve come a long way in fighting racism and discrimination, we still need to work hard, even harder, to eradicate it totally.”
The former England international urged people to report any incidents of racial abuse to the relevant authorities.
“Tell the league, tell the local FA and tell Kick It Out so that we can do something about it. This sort of thing shouldn’t be happening.”
On a more positive note, over 350 teams came together this month to support equality in football by taking part in the inaugural Kick It Out Cup - a tournament supported by Club Website and Lucozade Powerleague giving amateur teams the opportunity to be managed by a football legend.
Barrett, one of the Dream Managers who worked with competition finalists at the Northern Final at Trafford Powerleague last Sunday, described the initiative as “fantastic”.
“The Kick It Out Cup is fantastic because grassroots football is so important. The work that people at grassroots level do is fundamental to every kind of football in the UK. We all come from the grassroots," he said.
“Grassroots football brings together people from all backgrounds, different cultures and different races. It lets people interact with others from different walks of life. They come together, play football and enjoy themselves. That’s what it’s all about.”
As the results of our latest poll suggest, there is plenty of work still to be done to tackle racism at all levels of football.
But, with the Kick It Out Cup at the forefront, the grassroots game is making strides in the right direction.
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
Please report any racism witnessed in grassroots football to Kick It Out. For more information visit kickitout.org.
To find out more about the Kick It Out Cup, please click here.
Club Website poll result:
Have you witnessed any racism at your grassroots football matches over the last 12 months?
* No 68.1%
* Yes 31.9%
Total votes cast: 2,404