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survey of local football clubs affiliated to Leicestershire and Rutland County
of racism, ethnicity and player and spectator behaviour in local football, by
research which examines the views of local football club secretaries in
Leicestershire and Rutland around issues of racism, ethnicity and player and
spectator behaviour offers some interesting insights into the arena of local
research findings suggest that whilst general player and spectator behaviour was
considered to be satisfactory by many club secretaries, perceptions of racism
differed markedly across a range of social, cultural and geographical
distinctions and a large majority of all club secretaries felt there was, at
least, a small amount of racism in local football in Leicestershire and Rutland.
significant number of club secretaries - often those based at more
'multi-ethnic' clubs - reported some very real experiences of incidents of
racism involving players and spectators and expressed concern as to the
continued existence of 'racialised' tensions between players from different
responses of referees and the local County FA in dealing with issues of racism
in local football were seen to be problematic by a significant proportion of
club secretaries in our sample. Similarly, the Leicester Equality Through Sports
(LETS) 'Sports Charter' which was specifically designed to tackle problems of
racism in local parks football in this area, was also framed by many respondents
as a less than adequate response to dealing with these important issues.
with specific reference to reported incidents of racism in local football, the
responses of club secretaries in our local sample group compared favourably with
findings from a similar study undertaken by researchers at Leeds Metropolitan
University on racism in local football in West Yorkshire. Of course, the
comparative value of these findings has to be placed against the broader
back-cloth of a series of locally specific social and cultural conditions which
go beyond the narrow context of local football and which allude, in part, to the
differential spread of ethnic minority communities across different regions and
also to the way in which ethnic and cultural diversity might be positively
promoted and valued in specific locales such as Leicester.
of the research findings
Ethnic minority participation in local football
Club secretaries' views on issues of player and spectator behaviour and
issues of racism in local football
Club secretaries' views on the perceived 'natural' attributes of players
from different ethnic backgrounds
The Leicester Equality Through Sports (LETS) 'Sports Charter'
Club secretaries' views on the extent of racism in local football
recent decades, the emergence of a number of localised initiatives designed to
promote 'anti-racism' in professional football and the development of a
sophisticated and nationally co-ordinated campaign to 'Kick Racism out of
Football' has led to a significant reduction in overt racist activity among fans
at professional football clubs and helped contribute towards the creation of a
safer and more welcoming environment for some fans from ethnic minority
national and localised initiatives are also committed to addressing some more
'hidden' semi-institutionalised barriers which might limit, more fully, the
participation of ethnic minority communities in the activities of their local
professional football clubs, with specific reference to spectating, playing and
such initiative in Leicester - the Foxes Against Racism campaign - as well as
working closely with Leicester City Football Club, has also made attempts to
address issues of racism in local parks football following the Government
Football Task Force (FTF) recommendations laid out in the 1998 report
'Eliminating Racism in Football'. Indeed, many of the recommendations made in
this report with respect to addressing issues of racism in local football were
the result of submissions made to the FTF by local groups in Leicester,
including prominent local 'black' and 'Asian' football clubs, who alluded to the
continued existence of incidents of racist intimidation, abuse and violence in
local parks football in the region.
research identifies the levels and spread of ethnic minority participation in
local football in Leicestershire and offers the views of local club secretaries
on issues of player and spectator behaviour with specific reference to issues of
racism. Further, the research offers an evaluation of the effectiveness of the
Leicester Equality Through Sports (LETS) 'Sports Charter', which was set up
specifically to address problems of racism in parks football in Leicestershire.
Some comments on the research
author of the report, Steve Bradbury, of the Sir Norman Chester Centre for
Football Research at the University of Leicester, says,
the popular public image of Leicester as a thriving 'multi-cultural' city where
ethnic diversity is often positively promoted and valued, the findings of this
research might suggest that the arena of local parks football is a site in which
overt forms of racist abuse and other racialised tensions are all to
a personal level, some local players and spectators must exercise greater
restraint and take more responsibility for their behaviour in this respect. At
an organisational level, the local football authorities and other key local
agencies need to work together, more productively, to ensure that incidents of
racism are dealt with, swiftly and appropriately, in accordance with stated
practices and policies laid out in the Leicester Equality Through Sports (LETS)
great strides made in combating racism in the professional game in recent years
must also be reflected in local amateur football in order to create an
environment where football can be enjoyed and participated in by all of
Leicester's communities. We must not forget that local parks football,
especially at youth level, can potentially provide a fertile recruiting ground
for young players with the ability and aspirations to go on to play for
Leicester City Football Club.
Laywood - Sport on Parks Officer for the Arts and Leisure department at
Leicester City Council, says "Clearly the low levels of awareness of the
Leicester Equality Through Sports (LETS) 'Sports Charter' are disappointing when
considering the processes involved to improve the communication channels through
the Foxes Against Racism campaign. However we will continue to monitor its
effectiveness and investigate methods of improvement accordingly"
Powar, National Co-ordinator, Kick It Out, football's national anti-racism
campaign, says 'We know from both research and anecdotal evidence that racial
abuse and violence of players from ethnic minority groups is endemic across the
country. It remains the single biggest issue requiring sustained action from
local football administrators and clear leadership from the FA.
a campaigning organization, Steve Bradbury's research allows us to examine how a
more targeted and sustainable campaign can be taken forward to ensure racism at
the grassroots is effectively challenged. It is clear from the report that what
was a model initiative needs to be re-examined by all partners to ensure the
scheme is effective.²
Morrison, General Secretary, Leicestershire and Rutland County FA, says "
The County FA applaud Steve Bradbury for his investigation work into this
subject and always support any initiatives that reduce racism in football at all
levels of the game and will continue to do so"
full copy of the report and its findings are available at www.le.ac.uk/snccfr/
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