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Kick It Out launches appeal after record 1,007 reports of discriminatory behaviour during the 2022/23 season

New figures released by Kick It Out, which includes reports from the professional game, grassroots and social media, show a 65.1 per cent rise in reports of discriminatory behaviour during the 2022/23 season compared to the previous year; Racism accounts for 49.3 per cent of reports

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CEO of Kick It Out, Tony Burnett, admits that the high levels of discrimination that were reported last season are 'concerning', but encourages fans to 'take a stand' whilst welcoming the Online Safety Bill to force change.

Kick It Out has appealed for help from football's stakeholders after receiving a record 1,007 reports of discriminatory behaviour during the 2022/23 season.

New figures released by the anti-discrimination organisation, which includes reports from the professional game, grassroots and social media, show a 65.1 per cent rise on the previous season.

Kick It Out received 207 more reports related to online forums and social media, an increase of 279 per cent, but racism remains the most common form of discrimination in the game.

It accounts for 49.3 per cent of the entire total while reports related to sexism and misogyny represented the largest rise in a specific discrimination type - leading Kick It Out CEO Tony Burnett to call for more support.

"The significant increase in reports across the game is alarming and strengthens our resolve to tackle discrimination in all areas of football," he said. "Behind each of these statistics, is somebody who has sadly experienced discrimination, and supporting the victims of abuse remains Kick It Out's utmost priority.

"While we continue to work tirelessly to Kick It Out, we call upon fans, clubs, leagues and governing bodies to help us with this cause, and we are encouraged that the number of reports per incident continues to increase, suggesting that people are becoming less tolerant of discriminatory behaviour and more likely to report abuse when they see it.

"Our figures provide a snapshot of what is happening across the game, but we still don't know the full picture because clubs, leagues and governing bodies aren't currently mandated to share their reporting data.

"This underscores why football urgently needs a centralised reporting mechanism to collate and monitor reports. Only once that happens can we understand the full extent of the problem within football and tackle it with the full force of the sport."

Sky Sports in partnership with Kick It Out.
Image: Sky Sports in partnership with Kick It Out

Kick It Out's reports-per-incident rate has risen for the fourth consecutive season, suggesting fans are more inclined to report discrimination, but figures also show a 400 per cent increase in reports of sexism and misogyny across the board, up from 16 reports to 80.

It has been lifted by a massive spike in online abuse towards female players and supporters, from one report in 2021/22 to 46 this season.

Faith-based discrimination fell slightly due to a 29.5 per cent drop in the number of reports received of anti-Semitic nature, although Islamophobia (up by 300 per cent) and sectarian chanting in the professional game (15.8 per cent rise) both increased.

Discrimination reports in the professional game rose by 27.4 per cent to 484, which represents those received from the Premier League, EFL, National League, domestic cups, European and international competition, Women's Super League and Women's Championship.

There was a noticeable rise in reports of disability-based abuse within the professional game. There were nearly three times the number of reports of this nature compared to the 2021/22 season (23 reports, up from eight last season).

Meanwhile, Kick It Out has also seen a 55.1 per cent rise in reports from grassroots and non-League football with 242 reports, up from 156.

Racism continued to account for 50.8 per cent of grassroots reports while 43.4 per cent of overall incidents received were from U18s or younger age group games. Research conducted by Kick It Out suggests many incidents are still not reported.

Social media abuse comprised a much larger proportion of overall reports this season, making up 28 per cent of all reports received - up from 12.1 per cent last year.

Burnett: Findings concerning - but not unexpected

Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett told Sky Sports News:

"In the last six months we've seen the Home Office reporting higher-than-ever figures surrounding hate crime, we've seen the UK football policing unit reporting significant increases in football-related hate crime. So our figures are really consistent with the broader picture that discrimination is on the increase in England.

"The positive aspect, and I want to emphasise this, is that for the first time we're seeing a trend that fans are more willing to report hate crime in and around football. The number of reports per incident has gone up significantly over the last four years, which suggests to us that fans are sending a message to society that they've had enough, and they don't want discrimination in and around our game.

"We've been fighting for some time now trying to work with [social media] providers to make the online world a safer space for our beneficiaries. Bottom line - the firms need to do more, but that's not new news.

"The Online Safety Bill will make a difference to that, because in the absence of intent to drive change, we need the bill to force them into it. We're really pleased our work has culminated in that coming into legislation within the next 12 months."

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