Kick It Out reveals big increase in reports of abuse with social media providing a new outlet for racism and homophobia

 

The Kick It Out organisation has received a 43 per cent increase in reports of discriminatory remarks being posted on social media in the last year, as the anonymity of the likes of Facebook and Twitter provides a new outlet for racism and homophobia

Speaking during a Radio Five Live debate on homophobia, Kick it Out’s director Roisin Wood reveals that the organisation’s own renewed attempts to persuade fans to report discrimination at grounds has seen complaints increase three fold overall. The app which Kick it Out it launched last July to help fans overcome fears about recriminations for reporting abuse has contributed significantly to the increase.

Ms Wood told the debate, at Manchester’s National Football Museum, that social media was a “massive issue” where racist and homophobic abuse was concerned. “Sometimes people are using the force of social media to abuse players and to abuse other fans. These are very serious indications. We can only see that going one way and that’s an increase,” she said.

Commentator Stan Collymore deactivated his Twitter account last month after complaining about persistent racist abuse and declaring that the trend was “getting worse.” Each report of abuse communicated through the app goes automatically to the Football Association, the relevant clubs and leagues as well as Kick It Out. Ms Wood said more prosecutions have followed.

The West Bromwich Albion defender Steven Reid told the debate that he had been embroiled in abuse when he left the dressing room to find a number of abusive comments written in the dust on his car - and amongst them was “Steven Reid is gay.” Reid, who is heterosexual, said: “Stupidly that found its way onto a social network site and there was trouble after that. I wanted to know [from my teammates] who did it. You’ve got to have some balls to stand up and say that’s wrong. But what hit home to me was that taking the word gay out of it and putting a racist word in [would have made it viewed far differently.]”

Reid said it was up to senior players, like himself, to challenge homophobia in the dressing room. “If you hear something unacceptable – or find something unacceptable as a senior player – I wouldn’t have it,” he said.

The Manchester City Ladies’ goalkeeper Dani Brown told the debate that “if I was a male footballer I wouldn’t come out. We might play in front of a crowd of 200 people but these guys in the men’s game are playing in front of 47,000 people – they’ll use anything against you to put you off your game. I totally understand why men footballers’ won’t come out. I think we’ve seen that in pro football when people have got wind of particular stories in the media and then the chants about all sort of things start.”

She said that she had regularly heard homophobic abuse at the Etihad during City men’s first team games. “I’m a season ticket holder at City and I’ve heard homophobic abuse there quite often. But it’s having the guts to go and call that out or approaching some 15 stone bloke who’s at the front abusing a steward for instance. Who’s brave enough to make that step?  I’ve never had any homophobic abuse at a women’s game – in the street yes, but not at a game.”

Owen Coyle, the former Burnley, Bolton and Wigan manager, said: “There used to be a time when if an opposition player was terrific he would be applauded. All that’s changed now. People come along to abuse you – a minority maybe. I can understand why a high profile player would be reluctant because of the vitriol and abuse they receive in games. People think it’s acceptable. The sooner that’s eradicated, the better.

“When they are in the dressing room you can understand why a player would be reluctant [to come out] They would be the butt of the jokes. I don’t think that’s malicious. I was a teammate of Justin Fashanu’s at Airdrie. The players welcomed him with open arms in the dressing room. That’s not to say there wasn’t banter. Justin was the butt of opposition fans too. There’s a fine line between the banter and being offensive.”

The Homophobia in Sport debate is broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live at 9pm on Thursday night

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas