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More must be done to eliminate racism in football, says campaigner

  • More must be done to tackle deep-rooted racism in football.
  • A recent Kick it Out report has found that fan-on-fan racism is almost as common as fan-on-player.

Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash

A former professional football player says more action must be taken on racism and mental health in football. 

With the FIFA World Cup taking place alongside Men’s Health Month, players say there has never been a better opportunity to discuss the issues.

Racist abuse in football has a severe mental health impact

Ex-professional football player Krishnan Patel, 30, from Bolton, says there’s more to be done to stop racism and improve accessibility in football culture.

Twitter: @talestoinspire

He said: “Instantly, I felt different.

“I didn’t admit that I was racially abused until I was 27 years old. I didn’t want to show weakness.

“I didn’t want to say, ‘I’m a victim’. I didn’t want to tell everyone I’d been racially abused. I just thought I’d try harder.

“People would say to me, ‘I didn’t expect someone like you to play so well’. Well, why? What do you mean someone like me?

“That had a big effect on my mental health, as well. I always felt different. There was no one who looked like me playing football, no one I came across who was like me.

‘I didn’t admit that I was racially abused until I was 27 years old. I didn’t want to show weakness’

Krishnan Patel

“There are so many Asian people playing football, so many in the North West of England, loads and loads and loads, and I never played against another, not another single Asian footballer.

“They’re playing. Why aren’t they being recruited and going into the spaces they should be? Why can’t they be welcome in this environment?

“If they truly cared about Asian footballers and the minority. They’d realise equality doesn’t work. There’s no point treating me equally; I needed extra support. If we treat everyone equally, we’re saying we’re all at the same starting point. I was not at the same starting point – I needed extra help.

‘Mental health is a big buzzword, but actions speak louder than words. The system is so broken’

Krishnan Patel
Youtube: @talestoinspire

Krish has since established Tales to Inspire, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to spread goodwill and awareness of social inequality through sharing the stories of individuals. 

What’s being done?

Earlier this year, a report from Leeds Beckett University examined the exclusion of South Asian people from football. 

The damning report identified that out of 3,700 professional football players in England, only 15 of those were British South Asian players, despite football being the number one sport played in British South Asian Communities. 

This figure comes despite the entrenched existence of organisations such as Kick it Out, founded in 1993, and Show Racism the Red Card, founded 1996, aiming to tackle racism and accessibility issues in football. 

Kick it Out is currently running a short course for Islamaphobia Awareness Month.

Fan abuse

‘Violence is inherently part of football culture’

Kamron Singh

Kick it Out’s 2021/2022 report found fan on player racism accounted for 43% of reports of abuse with fan on fan closley following at 30% of reports.

Leeds FC season-ticket holder Kamron Singh, 23, from Manchester, said: “I’ve never personally been racially abused or discriminated against at a game but I have witnessed it. 

“I witnessed a fan harassing a black player. Usually, it’s not tolerated, and they’re removed from the stadium.

“But violence is inherently part of football culture. It’s 100% toxic masculine culture, people don’t just go to watch the game”.

Kick it Out’s most recent report reveals an 8% overall decrease in reports of abuse, indicating that perhaps cases of abuse are decreasing. 

They have also foregrounded a shift in monitoring online abuse, noting the Premier League’s monitoring platform and the work of their own Football Online Hate Working Group. 

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