Clubs unite to attack racism in football: Many grounds will see action against racists this season, writes David Connett. But there are some exceptions

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The Independent Online
A CAMPAIGN to drive racism from football grounds has been launched without the full support of every first-class club.

Seven clubs, including two from the Premier League, have refused to participate in the campaign, launched by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) on the eve of the new season, which begins in England and Wales this weekend.

Norwich City and Southampton in the Premier League, Crystal Palace and Luton Town in the first division, Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham in the second and Crewe Alexandra in the third all declined to take part in the campaign, it was revealed yesterday.

Herman Ouseley, chair of the CRE, said the organisers were still talking to some of the clubs, but he admitted that others had refused outright to have anything to do with the campaign. Some of the clubs that were refusing to take part said this was because they did not have a racism problem.

He said it was a positive sign that so many clubs had agreed to support the campaign. 'Racial abuse and racist chanting at black players is insulting and unacceptable behaviour from football fans and it is now against the law. British football clubs have shown by their actions and their commitment to the campaign they are determined to play their part in helping stamp it out.'

He said recent evidence revealed that a new generation of football hooligans was using the game as a front for a mixture of serious crime and extremist politics.

Brian Marwood, PFA chairman, said recent research suggested that there was a resurgence of racism in football. 'The situation had improved through the hard work of a lot of people, but I think we have to act now to prevent it reaching the extent of the 1970s and 80s.' He estimated that one in four PFA members was black.

The campaign hopes to reduce levels of racist abuse and chanting at football grounds, making it more attractive for members of racial minorities to attend games.

A study last year showed that ethnic minority families living close to Bolton Wanderers' ground were fearful and uncomfortable on match days and did not allow their children to play outside.

The campaign also hopes to extend opportunities for members of ethnic minorities in the management and administration of football clubs and even in boardrooms.

Supporters at games will be targeted with posters and leaflets throughout the season.

The CRE will also ask police and club security stewards to act against fans who shout racial abuse. The 1991 Football Offences Act made it a criminal offence to chant racist or indecent words.

Herman Ouseley said the CRE planned to launch the campaign in Scotland later this year along with the Scottish Football Association.

The Football Supporters' Association said it fully supported the 'Kick Racism out of Football' campaign, which complemented its own efforts to highlight the problems including a plan for a day of action. It said that many supporters' clubs had already successfully launched their own initiatives to combat racism.

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