Leeds United fans among worst offenders for racist incidents dealt with by transport police

POLICE HAVE dealt with hundreds of racist incidents involving football fans in the past three years as campaigners warn the problem has moved away from stadiums but still exists on match days.

New figures published today have shown officers deal with cases throughout the game from Premier League fans to people attending grassroots children’s football.

British Transport Police (BTP) has dealt with 128 allegations of racism with 44 cases in 2012-13, 56 in 2013-14 and 28 so far this season. According to the BTP, Leeds United fans were the second worst offenders nationally along with Manchester United. It dealt with 10 incidents involving fans of both clubs over the three year period. Only Chelsea had more cases with 15 incidents.

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It follows the high profile case of a black man who was prevented from boarding a train in Paris by Chelsea fans as they sang a racist song, with five of them due in court this week. Tables provided by the force show there were three incidents involving Sheffield Wednesday, three with Chesterfield fans, one with a Huddersfield Town fan and one with a Barnsley supporter.

Police forces across the country also dealt with more than 200 incidents.

But the true figure is likely to be much higher as about half of forces nationally, including included West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and North Yorkshire Police, did not provide data. Humberside Police dealt with eight incidents, while Greater Manchester Police reported the highest number with 46 incidents. The force said that on two occasions a letter was written to a specific footballer containing racist abuse.

Hertfordshire Police recorded 11 incidents of alleged racist abuse at children’s football games, while Northamptonshire Police said that during a non-league game a man was spat at and racially abused before eventually having his leg broken in a strong challenge.

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Show Racism The Red Card’s campaign co-ordinator, Gavin Sutherland, said: “This data from police forces around the UK shows that although football clubs have taken strong action against people using racist language inside stadiums, racism is a real problem within society.

“People who exhibit racist behaviours in 2015 are doing so, in the main, away from football grounds. Especially worrying are the incidents of racist abuse at youth team football matches. People engaged in racist abuse at these venues know that they are more likely to get away with it, because of facilities, a lack of stewarding and security, but the impact on young people will be considerable.”

As some police forces were unable to provide the information or did not reply to the request, Mr Sutherland said there would certainly be a greater number of cases.

“These incidents, although shocking in themselves and how geographically widespread they are, will be just a part of the picture,” he added. “These are the incidents that have been reported. There will certainly be a greater number unreported and under investigated. Show Racism The Red Card has always stated that the reason racism manifests in football is that it is a societal problem.”

A Leeds United spokesman said: “There is no place for racism in football or the wider world. As a club we will work together with the relevant associations to stamp it out.”