PFA want racist abuse at football matches punished with jail time in fresh plea to government

Professional Footballers’ Association has requested a change to the law in an effort to deter future racist abuse at matches

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 09 January 2020 11:52
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Frank Lampard says his Chelsea players have his full support over racism

The Professional Footballers’ Association have called on the government to change the law regarding how incidents involving racism at football matches are handled, with chief executive Gordon Taylor leading a campaign to have custodial sentences handed out for ‘hate crimes’.

The move comes after Boris Johnson’s government rejected a plea from the PFA to lead an inquiry into the growing number of racist incidents at football matches in Britain, with the response calling for the sport to get its own house in order first before any interjection is made.

However, the PFA have now called on the politicians to change the law regarding how racist offences at football are treated, with tougher punishments wanted in an effort to deter potential offenders.

“The PFA are happy to lead on this,” Taylor told the Daily Mail. “We will be lobbying the government to increase punishments for those found guilty of racist offences at football. That includes handing down custodial sentences. There needs to be a bigger deterrent. Enough is enough. These are hate crimes.”

The PFA’s request comes after Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger alleged that he was racially abused during the victory over Tottenham Hotspur in December. The German claimed that more than one fan made monkey gestures towards him, which he and captain Cesar Azpilicueta reported to referee Anthony Taylor immediately, though neither Spurs nor the Metropolitan Police found any evidence of guilty individuals and the matter has been closed.

Manchester United players also reported racist abuse from their victory over Manchester City last month, while in total there were more than 35 instances of racist abuse at football matches in Europe in 2019, leading to calls for more to be done to combat one of the sport’s biggest issues.

While no evidence was found relating to Rudiger’s claim, one man was arrested at the same match for allegedly racially abusing Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, who was shown a red card for kicking out at Rudiger shortly before the Chelsea defender claimed he was abused.

The two incidents led to the PFA’s deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes contacting sport minister Nigel Adams, as well as contact both Fifa and Uefa about the growing issue in British football, with the belief that tougher punishments and the potential for jail time will deter similar allegations in the future.

Racially aggravated offences rarely result in prison time, although Manchester United supporter Karl Anderson was jailed for 16 weeks in 2017 after pleading guilty to racially aggravated common assault on Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

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