Football: Newcastle lead race against racism: Phil Shaw on the latest nationwide moves to kick racial prejudice out of football stadiums

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The Independent Online
PREMIERSHIP clubs were urged yesterday to follow Newcastle United's lead in threatening to withdraw season tickets from supporters who use racial taunts against black players or fans.

Since all matches at St James' Park have been sold out in advance to season-ticket holders, organisers of a new national campaign against racism in football believe Newcastle's stand will be a genuine deterrent. The call for other clubs to act on supporters' complaints was made at the launch of United Colours of Football, a one-off fanzine produced by the Football Supporters' Association with backing from the Commission for Racial Equality and the Professional Footballers' Association. The FSA plans to distribute 110,000 free copies outside stadiums this weekend.

The publication, which 'celebrates the multi-cultural nature of football and reflects positive perceptions of black people in the game', is intended to build on the CRE's 'Let's kick racism out of football' campaign. The FSA felt fans needed to be involved more, and in so doing hope to improve the atmosphere at matches and even change attitudes among those who hurl abuse and bananas.

Leeds, once notorious for racist chanting and neo-fascist paper sellers, were also praised. A spokesman for a fans' pressure group formed to challenge those taking part said: 'After being very hostile at first, the club have now got their finger out. The police also deserve credit because they treat racial abuse at Elland Road as a criminal offence - which, under the 1991 Football Offences Act, it is.'

Tomorrow, Leeds followers will join their West Ham hosts in giving out the fanzine. Leicester and Newcastle supporters aim for a similar show of unity on Sunday at Filbert Street, another venue with a reputation for racism.

Only one senior club, York City, did not join the CRE campaign. An FSA official said the club claimed an organised response was unnecessary, then that they were launching their own. A group of York fans have since come together in support of the initiative.

Meanwhile, the CRE announced a 'Week of Action' against racism in football, marking it with the publication of a magazine, Kick it]

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