Football hate crime up 47 per cent in England and Wales
By PA Media
Last Updated: 22/11/19 11:30am
The number of football matches where hate crime was reported increased by 47 per cent in the 2018-19 season, according to the Home Office.
Hate crime was reported at 193 matches in 2018-19, up from 131 matches in 2017-18, data published in September found.
Of the 193 matches, 79 per cent of the hate crime incidents related to race.
Which club had the most reports?
Burnley supporters were reported for alleged hate crimes at football matches more often than any other club in England or Wales over the last two completed seasons.
There were 17 instances where the Clarets were reported, while Manchester United, Sunderland and West Ham were the subject of 13 reports each, a request under the Freedom of Information Act by the PA news agency has found.
Fifteen of the 17 reports concerning Burnley related to discrimination on the grounds of race, while two related to sexual orientation.
Burnley take self-policing hate crime stance
"Burnley is aware of the figure highlighted in the data and believes the number of instances reported reflects the club's pro-active stance on such issues," a statement read.
"As a club, we operate a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination at Turf Moor and amongst our supporters at away matches.
"We actively encourage our supporters to report any relevant incidents, including those suspected from our own fans, which we believe is reflected by the number of reports made."
In the case of Manchester United, nine related to race, one to religion and three to sexual orientation.
Twelve of the reports related to Sunderland supporters had to do with race, with one related to sexual orientation. West Ham were reported for six race-related offences, four linked to religion and three to sexual orientation.
Reports of incidents were submitted to the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) by police dedicated football officers (DFOs). These reports may be informed by information obtained from partner organisations such as the Football Association and Kick It Out.
The data does not show which clubs were responsible for making the reports, and there may be a number of occasions where supporters have highlighted misconduct among their own fanbase.
Sunderland and Burnley highlighted their own proactive policies for reporting abuse among their own support, while Manchester United said that they continue to take "strong action" against anyone identified as engaging in racist or any discriminatory abuse and encourage people to speak out and report any abuse that they witness.
Ten of the reports were about fans of Chelsea, Leeds and Leicester. Blackburn, Millwall and Tottenham supporters were reported on nine occasions each.
One of the reports on Chelsea concerned an individual who directed racial abuse at Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling during a Premier League match on December 8, 2018.
Chelsea banned the supporter for life in June 2019, but the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge.
There were 23 occasions across the two seasons where clubs were reported for hate crimes related to sexual orientation in games against Brighton - with Southampton the club reported in three of those instances.
What can we expect for the current season?
The current season has also been blighted by incidents of discriminatory behaviour involving supporters.
Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop reported homophobic abuse being directed at him and referee John Busby during his side's League One match against Tranmere last Sunday, while last month players from Haringey Borough walked off the pitch during their FA Cup qualifying match against Yeovil over racist abuse.