Hate is alive and well within football – Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend

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Discriminatory behaviour by fans at Premier League matches on Sunday show that “hate is alive and well within football”, according to Kick It Out.

Two supporters were arrested on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence following the match between Tottenham and Burnley in London, with a video appearing to show a visiting fan perform a Nazi salute.

Later, two Brentford players, Rico Henry and Ivan Toney, reported that members of their family had been racially abused at the game against Everton at Goodison Park.

Kick It Out’s head of player engagement Troy Townsend said: “We have been made aware of a spate of new alleged anti-Semitic and racist comments and gestures linked to several clubs over the weekend.

“Whilst investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment on the specifics of cases. However, the events of the weekend once again highlight the fact that hate is still alive and well within football.

“Everton, Burnley and Tottenham all acted swiftly and we commend their energy in addressing these incidents. We hope appropriate and decisive action is taken against all those involved.

“Our support goes out to the victims. We will not stop fighting until hate is eradicated from our sport. Football is a game for everyone.”

Merseyside Police confirmed late on Sunday night they were investigating the reports of abuse directed at the Brentford players’ families.

Detective Inspector Catherine Cox said: “No matter what football team you support, there is absolutely no place for hate anywhere in Merseyside under any circumstances.

“Merseyside Police has investigated and successfully prosecuted so-called fans for racial abuse inside football stadia, and offenders have been handed football banning orders along with a criminal record for their behaviour.

“We will support the victims in this case and work with Everton Football Club to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Their views and their abuse is not welcome here in Merseyside, and they do not represent the overwhelming majority of football fans.”

Henry tweeted after his side’s 3-2 win: “I never usually speak out on things that don’t physically harm me or my family but to see my mom upset after being racially abused by a few Everton fans brought fire to my stomach!

“I will do anything for them & whatever it takes to get the small minority punished! This is not acceptable & must be investigated immediately.”

His Bees team-mate Toney also tweeted to say that a man had racially abused his family and added: “I’ll do everything I can to get you the punishment you deserve.”

The UK’s football policing lead, Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police, told PA in February there had been an increase in hate crime incidents reported in stadiums in the first half of the 2021-22 season (206) compared to the same period in 2019-20 (146).

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