Discrimination in Football

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:01 pm on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 1:01 pm, 11th April 2019

Can I bring consensus back and thank the Minister for early sight of the statement? I associate myself with the comments made by the Minister and the Labour Front-Bench spokesman, and it is not often that I can say that.

The recent high-profile instances of racism in the game fly in the face of the fantastic work done over the years by groups such as Show Racism the Red Card and Kick It Out. Sadly, however, although football in England at any rate is swimming in money, a relatively small amount is spent by the game on such initiatives. I very much welcome the Minister’s tone and the actions she has set out. I think we can all agree that it is time for footballing authorities and top-level clubs to take the issue more seriously and invest in resources appropriately, and not just invest but make proper policy and disciplinary decisions. The example of James Kinsey, whom the Minister and shadow Minister referred to, being disciplined for taking his team off the pitch following racist abuse is shameful. I praise the reaction of players such as Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose to their abuse, but they must be better supported by bodies such as UEFA, which all too often issue paltry fines that amount to a pittance in the modern game.

As the shadow Secretary of State outlined, since 2012 the Scottish Government have invested £14 million to support the delivery of anti-sectarian education in schools, prisons, workplaces and communities. Does the Minister agree that knowledge education is one of the best means of tackling ignorance and must be part of the solution? Does she also agree that it is important to increase public awareness of the options open to fans to report racist incidents? The fact that less than half of all fans are aware of the Kick It Out smartphone app is disappointing to say the least.

Finally, the lower leagues and the grassroots take their example from the top-level game. It is simply not good enough in this day and age that only 4% of coaching and management roles across the top four leagues in England are held by black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals. Does the Minister agree that reducing discrimination in the boardrooms and on the training grounds would go a long way towards changing wider attitudes in society?