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Racism in Football

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Rosena Allin-Khan Rosena Allin-Khan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport) 12:32 pm, 15th October 2019

Thank you so much for granting this urgent question, Mr Speaker. I would like to echo everything that you have just said. Last night, we saw the most horrific racist abuse aimed at England players in their match against Bulgaria, which caused the match to be halted on two occasions. Photos and clips followed of fans performing Nazi salutes, and the racist chanting continued. It is utterly deplorable. I had a conversation with the FA’s chief executive last night during the match, in which I reiterated our support for the England players. The entire country will be proud of the England team last night, and Gareth Southgate has shown true leadership in defence of his players. This abuse must be stamped out. No one should have to arrive at work to be subjected to any form of discrimination, so why are our players still being subjected to this? In future, if players decide to walk off the pitch in protest, they must have the full support of this House, our press and the football bodies.

We ourselves, however, are not exempt from this problem. It would be irresponsible for us to condemn the behaviour of fans around the world without addressing the fact that many players have indeed suffered racist abuse online, from the stands and in their day-to-day lives at the hands of a small section of our own fans. I know that the Government have committed to writing to UEFA, which I really welcome, but will the Minister outline what further steps they are taking to address the scourge of racism in sport? UEFA has a duty to act here. The world is watching. A fine is not enough, so I am asking our Government to ensure that we are backing up the FA to seek the harshest possible punishments. Stadium bans are a must, and forfeiting matches and expulsion from tournaments must not be ruled out. Enough is enough. The time to act is now.