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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 Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 12:32 pm, 15th October 2019

I, too, welcome the Minister to his place. This is a deeply serious issue, but it would be fair to say that it is entirely likely that I had never wanted the England team to win, and to win so well, until last night. I am delighted that they did their talking on the pitch, although of course they should have the right to walk off the pitch in those circumstances if they so choose.

However, it would be wrong to portray last night’s disgusting scenes as isolated incidents. The truth is that they are not. Racist chants and abuse form part of a growing and consistent pattern through parts of the game across Europe. This must mark a seminal moment, as the Minister said, in how football authorities crack down and eradicate racism of all kinds in our sport. Does he agree that, despite the progress last night in enforcing the three-step protocol for the first time, the fines and sanctions currently imposed by UEFA are simply not fit for purpose and do not form anywhere near enough of a deterrent?

We cannot have the Serbian FA fined €80,000 for fans’ racist chanting while former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined €100,000 for displaying a betting firm’s logo. These are hate crimes and should be treated as such by UEFA. What actions will the UK Government take to ensure that UEFA is pressured into recognising that reality?