RACISM

Discrimination in football may get worse, says Bhandari

An FA Cup tie between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned after players suffered racist abuse.

In Summary

• There have been several high-profile racism incidents this season, with players being abused both on social media and in stadiums. Bhandari, who is a former lawyer, says the problem is reflective of society.

• The Manchester United fan, who has worked as an equality expert with the Premier League for four years, wants more money to help the charity’s cause.

Dynamo Kiev's Viktor Tsygankov and Mykola Shaparenko console Shakhtar Donetsk's Taison, who reacted to presumed racist insults.
Dynamo Kiev's Viktor Tsygankov and Mykola Shaparenko console Shakhtar Donetsk's Taison, who reacted to presumed racist insults.
Image: /REUTERS

Discrimination in football may “get worse before it gets better”, according to Sanjay Bhandari, the new chairman of anti-racism charity Kick It Out.

There have been several high-profile racism incidents this season, with players being abused both on social media and in stadiums. Bhandari, who is a former lawyer, says the problem is reflective of society.

He told BBC sport that he expects the situation to deteriorate because of a potential recession.

But he outlined how he would be conducting a strategic review and “a three-month listening tour” to discover how Kick It Out best tackles discrimination after replacing founder and former chair Lord Herman Ouseley, who was in the role for 26 years.

The 51-year-old revealed he was racially abused on social media within minutes of news of his appointment being made public last month.

But after claims by former trustee Garth Crooks that a former player should have been appointed, Bhandari said he was “the right fit” for the role after being ‘inside football for 45 years’.

The Manchester United fan, who has worked as an equality expert with the Premier League for four years, wants more money to help the charity’s cause.

In his opening speech, he said that trying to serve the whole football industry with an annual budget of about £800,000 and 18 staff was “not sustainable”.

This season several Premier League players have suffered racist abuse on social media and last month there was criticism of Uefa’s punishment of Bulgaria, who were fined £65,000 and ordered to play one game behind closed doors after fans aimed monkey chants at England players during a Euro 2020 qualifier.

An FA Cup tie between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned after players suffered racist abuse. And in Europe there have been several incidents, including Brazilian player Taison being reduced to tears after being sent off for reacting to racist chants while playing for Shakhtar Donetsk.

 

“Over a 30- or 40-year period it’s declined, but undoubtedly in the last couple of years we’ve seen an upward spike in reporting of racism and other forms of discrimination,” Bhandari told BBC Sport. “In the future, I anticipate there is more demand for that to increase in the sense that economic conditions, maybe with a recession on the horizon, also tends to lead to increase in discrimination so it may get worse before it gets better. The big difference with football is that it can be a mirror but it can also be a propeller. Football can be used as a cohesive force to change social attitudes.”

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