Norwich City accept police invite to help tackle online racism

No room for racism branding before the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
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Norwich City are one of only four clubs to accept an invite from police about tackling online racism. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Police chief Mark Roberts has been left frustrated at only a few clubs accepting an invite to help tackle online racism. 

Norwich City are one of only four Premier League clubs to respond to support from the police in hope of helping tackle the rising rates of online racism being directed towards professional footballers on social media. 

England internationals Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were all subjected to racist abuse online after missing penalties during the final of Euro 2020 earlier this summer. 

That is just the tip of the iceberg, with footballers regularly receiving discrimination on social media platforms. 

The government amended the Football Banning Orders to those who are abusive in connection with football on social media, meaning abusers will be banned from stadiums for up 10 years. 

Chief constable Roberts has described the response from professional clubs as 'disappointing'. As well as Norwich, Manchester City, Brighton and Chelsea have accepted the invitation. 

“Only 49 have come back with a positive response saying they wish to engage,” Roberts told Sky News. “So far only eight clubs have facilitated us getting the officers, PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association] and Kick It Out [anti-discrimination body] in to speak to the players.

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“We hear all the slogans, we hear all the commitment. But when we try and take some positive steps to support players, support the clubs, we need a bit more than words sometimes.”

Social media companies have been under fire to improve the way they deal with online abuse and have improved their response to any reports from six months to three days. 

Roberts is urging more football clubs to come forward and accept the invitation to work closely with police to help eradicate online trolling, discrimination and racism from the game. 

“We want to do this [end the abuse] but I think this is one of those examples where everyone says they are committed, says they want to tackle it, but then we give opportunities [and] it doesn’t happen. [It’s] a really disappointing take-up, and I think, candidly, the numbers speak for themselves.

“If people know the options in advance and what support is open to them, then there’s a better chance of them knowing what to do and taking positive action."

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