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Troy Townsend: extent of racism in football is "eye-opener"

RACISM: Raheem Sterling spoke out about the media's coverage of black players after he was abused at a match last year

KICK IT Out's Troy Townsend has expressed concerned about the extent of racist incidents in UK football and called on officials within the sport to do more to tackle them.

Townsend, Kick It Out’s education manager, said data from a Sky Sports News report released this week was a “real eye-opener”.

The survey, which was conducted by Sky Data, found that 86 per cent of those who regularly attended matches have observed racism at a game.

Of the more than 1,000 football supporters who participated in the survey, 93 per cent of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) fans said they had witnessed racism at football games in the UK. One in three supporters (33 per cent) said they had been on the receiving end of racist abuse, a figure which rose to 71 per cent for fans from a BAME background.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Townsend said: "The stats speak for themselves. The stats should be a real eye-opener, for all of us working in football.

PICTURED: Troy Townsend, Kick It Out's education manager

"If fans are suffering this sort of discrimination, it should shine a bright light for us. It certainly has done for me, and it's something we will look to address when we start to talk about real outcomes we want from this."

Townsend also called on the sport to improve in how it deals with reports of racism.

Referring to an incident when a banana was thrown at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during a match against Tottenham, Townsend told Sky Sports Nes: "One of the major incidents - the banana on the pitch - was not identified as racism. So if we're not going to call it as it is, we're going to continue having these problems.

"The fan was charged for a missile on the football pitch. What's the significance of that banana for black players?"

The Spurs fan who threw the banana was handed a four-year ban from football matches and fined.

West Ham’s Michail Antonio is also among those calling racist incidents to be dealt with better.

He said: "If you affect their team - these fans love their team - the fans, his friends, are going to turn on him.

"If you start playing games behind closed doors and deducting points, then the problem is inside themselves. They are going to deal with it themselves,” he told Sky Sports News.

Yesterday a Burnley fan was charged with a racially aggravated offence in relation to abuse aimed at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Gaëtan Bong.

The police arrested two men during last Saturday’s Premier League match between the two teams.

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