Ouseley: People now willing to talk

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Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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Kick it Out chairman Herman Ouseley believes a rise in reported incidents of football-related discrimination shows people are now more willing to come forward.

The campaign group has released figures that reveal a 35 per cent increase in complaints from August 2014 until the end of December compared to the same period last season.

In professional football, the increase was from 43 incidents to 71, only four short of the total number reported during the 2013/14 campaign.

The Football Association, meanwhile, has seen a growth in complaints of 70 per cent.

Asked whether the figures showed discrimination was on the rise or that incidents were more likely to be reported, Lord Ouseley told Press Association Sport: ” We’d like to think it’s the latter.

“It is about building the confidence amongst people to trust the system to investigate complaints and to deliver an outcome.

“The purpose of publishing statistics is to show that is happening, because more people are inclined to take that chance and complain because they believe the system will work and that they’re not going to either get their head kicked in or waste their time, which I think is what people felt in the past.

“That’s not to say we don’t think there’s not a high level of prejudice around in British society and a lot of people like to play out their hate and their prejudices at football matches.”

The latest figures were revealed as police continued to examine mobile phone footage following reports of racist and abusive behaviour by Chelsea fans on a train from London to Manchester on Sunday night.

Four men were asked by police to leave the train at Stoke station.

Last month, Chelsea fans were filmed on the Paris Metro shouting racist chants and refusing to allow a black man on to a train carriage before the Champions League game against Paris St Germain. The club suspended five supporters in connection with the incident.

Another group of fans returning from Paris were heard shouting racist chants at London’s St Pancras station while some West Ham fans were apparently filmed singing anti-Semitic songs ahead of a match against Tottenham last month.

Ouseley said: “If you look at the incident on the Paris Metro, no one else thought to intervene.

“I certainly wouldn’t have attempted to get onto that carriage, and certainly if I was pushed off I wouldn’t have attempted to get back on. And while you’re on there you just keep your head down unless you’re one of the people behaving badly.

“But someone had the good sense to film it so we saw what was going on. And I think increasingly we’ll see people using their smart phones and putting stuff out there.”

Chelsea have promised to issue life-banning orders to any fans against whom there is sufficient evidence while chairman Bruce Buck met Ouseley as a demonstration of the club’s commitment to fighting racism and discrimination.

Ouseley said: “No one ever does enough and I think that’s true of all of us. It’s not about blaming specific clubs or all clubs. I think they can do more and they know that.

“It’s right that they should take the most stringent action to protect their integrity and to protect football. The incident on the Paris Metro went all around the world so it’s a stain on Britain’s reputation, a stain on our fans and on English football.

“The whole of football has a responsibility. It’s all our problem, and overall it’s society’s problem because these people would still be behaving badly somewhere if there wasn’t football.

“Chelsea fans were identifying others who were shown on film and I think that’s all very encouraging.

“People will always do what they think they can get away with and the more we complain and isolate and exclude, that’s the way we’ll make the game free from racism, harassment, abuse and prejudice.”

Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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