Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari says education key to tackling racism
Premier League: "The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form"
Last Updated: 08/12/19 5:36pm
Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari believes lifetime bans for football supporters who are guilty of racist abuse run the risk of entrenching discriminatory views.
This season has been a significant spike in the number of reported racist incidents across the game and Bhandari believes education can be more effective than issuing bans in order to tackle the issue in football.
"My own feeling is that it is better to have a range of potential punishments," he told Sky Sports News.
"That is mainly because if you have very strict draconian punishments for offences you risk creating martyrs.
"You also risk entrenching the beliefs of those people and so it's better in my view to have some flexibility particularly to educate and maybe offer education."
Partial stadium closures in English football have also been mooted as a potential sanction in the fight against discrimination.
But Show Racism the Red Card chief executive Ged Grebby does not want to see genuine supporters miss out on the opportunity to see their team play.
"It's not something Show Racism the Red Card would want," he told Sky Sports News.
"These are individual fans - and we need action against those individual fans - but we also need education within society.
"We don't want to see stadium closures in this country. We think at the moment our country's done more than most to fight racism in football, but it needs to step up the fight now."
The Premier League have since released a statement reiterating their commitment to eradicating racism in the game.
"The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form," they said.
"If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.
"We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable.
"Our No Room For Racism initiative is supported by all 20 clubs, their players, managers and fans.
"If anybody witnesses racist behaviour at a match or around a stadium, they can report it to a steward or the police, as well as via the Kick It Out reporting app.
"Everyone is welcome at Premier League games. Racism is not."