Racism rife in amateur football

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The Independent Online

Widespread incidents of racism in amateur football have been revealed by a study that found all black and Asian players questioned had been the victims of both physical and verbal abuse.

Widespread incidents of racism in amateur football have been revealed by a study that found all black and Asian players questioned had been the victims of both physical and verbal abuse.

The report, which has alarmed the Football Association, follows interviews with players at more than 2,000 amateur clubs.

Researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University found that 50 per cent of African-Caribbean players had experienced physical violence on the pitch that they attributed to premeditated racist intent.

Black players told the survey that racism was "part and parcel" of the amateur game and that they have come to expect "heat of the moment" verbal exchanges with white players to be accompanied by racial epithets. But few white players acknowledged that racism was an issue in the amateur leagues - with just 12 per cent believing that abuse related to skin colour was an acceptable form of "winding-up" an opponent.

The report found that the "vast majority" of players believed "that 'too much is made of this black/white thing, in football everyone is the same'." None of the white players had been the victim of racism.

The research team interviewed players, referees and club secretaries from amateur teams in West Yorkshire.

Three-quarters of the African-Caribbean players surveyed and half of the Asian respondents accused referees of failing to take action against those guilty of racial abuse.

Geoff Thompson, the chairman of the FA, said: "Everyone has a right to participate in football without the fear of suffering racism, be it on the field of play or by the institutions governing the game."

Speaking at Huddersfield Town's McAlpine Stadium, he launched plans by five local authorities in West Yorkshire to refuse to let pitches to clubs whose players are found guilty of racist behaviour.

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