• Racism in Football

Kick It Out poll reveals racist abuse still rife

ESPN staff
March 18, 2014
Paul Mortimer played more than 200 times for Charlton before moving into coaching © PA Photos

A survey of all Premier and Football League clubs has confirmed that many players have witnessed racist abuse in stadiums or been directly subjected to discrimination.

The poll, carried out by football's Kick It Out campaign, also revealed an overwhelming backing - from the 200 players who responded - for the "Rooney Rule" to be brought into English football to give coaches from ethnic backgrounds more opportunities in the game.

Kick It Out carried out its anonymous consultation between August 2013 and December 2013 and found that, of those who responded, 57% of the players have witnessed, and 24% have been subjected to, racist abuse in stadiums; 20% have witnessed, and 7% have been subjected to, racist abuse on the training ground or in the dressing room.

Mandatory shortlisting should be brought in for black and minority ethnic candidates applying for roles in football, 62% of respondents said.

Rooney Rule

Steelers owner Dan Rooney © AP
  • The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and originated in the NFL.
  • Named after Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney, due to the his long history of giving opportunities to African Americans, it requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior operation vacancies.
  • There is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates.

Meanwhile, 39% of those players said they have witnessed homophobic abuse in stadiums and on the training ground or in the dressing room.

Former Charlton and Crystal Palace midfielder Paul Mortimer, who was appointed Kick It Out's professional player engagement manager following high-profile criticism of the campaign from figures such as Rio Ferdinand, said: These statistics show what players see from the pitch and in the training grounds.

"Now we have these figures we can go ahead and do something about it, pinpoint areas and put strategies in place."

Mortimer, who previously worked under fellow black coach Leroy Rosenior at Torquay United and Brentford, also revealed that "the biggest portion of support for [the Rooney Rule] were white players".

He added: "I found it difficult to find management roles and all you want is a fair opportunity to fight for the job, to be able to be interviewed and judged; to know what the procedure is and for it to be transparent."

The poll results showed 65% of respondents were aware of the process involved in reporting abuse, while 91% said social media has led to a increase in abusive behaviour.

"It is a huge problem," Mortimer admitted. "We have a reporting app which players can report social media abuse on and we also want to educate people how to handle abuse, such as not responding in person."

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