No ban for racist football fan

Dan Grimmer Calls have been made for tougher punishments against racially-abusive football fans after a man who insulted a Canaries player walked away with just a fine. Football-Related Arrests and Banning Orders for Season 2007/08 on homeoffice.gov.uk

Dan Grimmer

Calls have been made for tougher punishments against racially-abusive football fans after a man who insulted a Canaries player walked away with just a fine.

Stephen Kitchen admitted shouting racial insults and expletives during a match two weeks ago between Norwich City and Preston North End.

The 24-year-old Preston fan, who was sat in the Jarrold Stand, was arrested after a policeman heard him shout: “you southern bastards” and “you black ****” at the November 8 game at Carrow Road, which ended 2-2.


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He appeared before a district judge at Norwich Magistrates Court on Monday and although he was told his language was “unacceptable” he was not given a banning order which would have prevented him from attending football matches for the next three years.

Instead he received a £150 fine.

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Today calls were made for the courts to come down harder on people who were racist or violent at football matches.

A spokesman from the Football League said: “We would support a banning order for anyone who is guilty of racial or violent behaviour.

“If anyone has been racist or violent they should have to face a ban. If they partake in this sort of behaviour they should expect a punishment and that is not to attend matches.

“We do not tolerate racism in football and are working hard to stamp it out.”

Anne Matin, director of the Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council, said: “I would have preferred it if there had been a ban. It would have sent out a clear message.

“Bad behaviour at football should not be tolerated. It has been an issue for a long time and I would say on the whole things are better. People do know that there will be consequences but it should be clear enough.

“I know that Norwich City Football Club has worked with us regarding the problem and it's important that the judiciary should support that work. They need to show that they won't tolerate this.”

A campaign called Let's Kick Racism Out of Football was established in 1993 and aims to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change in football.

This is supported by the Football League, the Professional Footballers Association and the FA.

John Nagle, a spokesman for the Football Association, said: “Football has worked very hard to stamp out this kind of behaviour at football matches and today this is very rare. But this serves as a reminder that this work must continue so we can eradicate the problem once and for all.”

The court heard how Kitchen, who lives at Silverdale Drive, Ribbleton in Preston, has been a football fan for “most of his life”.

Dennis King, prosecuting told how he had attended the match at Carrow Road with his father. The police officer made a statement describing Kitchen's behaviour as “highly agitated” and he was “using foul language”. Mr King said: “The officer noticed the defendant because he was shouting foul language. He looked embarrassed after being heard the first time. But some 15 minutes later he used the racist language.”

In his defence Ian Fisher said his client had “become emotionally embroiled in the game” and urged district judge Philip Browning not to impose a banning order. He said his client had been through a lot on the past few years including a close family bereavement, he was sorry for his actions and said a ban on him attending matches was not needed.

Mr Browning said the ban would be inappropriate because it would last for three years and did not think his client would benefit from such a punishment. He was handed a £150 fine and court costs of £60.

Today, season ticket holder Kitchen, who has supported Preston North End since he was six-years-old, said he was "ashamed" of his behaviour.

The 24-year-old, who follows the team home and away, said: “I'm embarrassed about it. It's something that happened and I'm ashamed of it. There was no actual trigger for it.

“I've been a fan for 18 years and I've had a season ticket for most of those years.”

A spokesman for Norwich City FC said ground regulations stated any type of racist or violent behaviour would not be tolerated. He said: “We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to racial abuse or harassment. We have the authority to impose a ban on any of our own fans who act in this way for one match or more.”

No one at Preston North End was available for comment.

Football-Related Arrests and Banning Orders for Season 2007/08 on homeoffice.gov.uk

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