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Kick It Out: 'Undeniable rise in hateful behaviour at football matches'

The incidence of reported hate crime at football matches is on the rise, according to new Home Office data.

Kick It Out says a rise in hateful behaviour at football matches and in wider society is "undeniable" following the publication of new Home Office figures.

Data released on Thursday morning showed the number of matches where such an incident was reported rose by 47 per cent in 2018-19 compared to the season before – 193 compared to 131.

The Home Office report said that of those hate crime incidents, 79 per cent related to race. It stated that the increase may be due to improvements in recording the data.

Data on reported hate crimes at football matches over the last two completed seasons
Data on reported hate crimes at football matches over the last two completed seasons (PA Graphics)

Kick It Out released a statement to the PA news agency which read: "The Home Office's latest arrest figures are a serious concern – and reflect a similar increase of hate crime at professional matches, as revealed in Kick It Out's reporting statistics for the 2018-19 season.

"It's encouraging to see that more people are comfortable reporting discrimination and we are working hard to make this as easy for all to do, but it is undeniable that we are experiencing a rise in hateful behaviour across the game and wider society.

"These figures should serve as a reminder for football – we must increase our efforts to send a clear message to any fan who discriminates at a match: you will be identified, arrested and face a football banning order."

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chief's Council football policing lead also described the rise as "really disappointing".

"The problem is really emerging, although I don't think it's ever gone away," he said.

"It was controlled for a while and became socially unacceptable at football, and it's a real concern that we've seen it creep back with such regularity into the national game.

"There is an issue with the levels of policing on the ground. They've not got the immediate sanction of a police officer being there to take immediate action, arrest them and for the crowd to see that there's that immediate deterrent on it.

"More needs to be done about the education of people. It's great that we have high-profile footballers coming out and making a positive stand saying 'this is unacceptable'. Fans groups need to make clear it's unacceptable behaviour."

Eighty Stoke supporters were arrested at matches in the 2018-19 season
Eighty Stoke supporters were arrested at matches in the 2018-19 season (Dave Thompson/PA)

The number of new banning orders issued in 2018-19 rose by 19 per cent compared to the previous campaign, 549 compared to 460.

Just under a third (31 per cent) of the total banning orders in force at August 1, 2019 were issued during the 2018-19 campaign, covering the period August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019.

There were 1,381 football-related arrests in England and Wales in the 2018-19 season.

The clubs with the highest number of arrests were Stoke (80), Leeds (49) and Aston Villa (42) according to the data.

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