BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies cyclist killed after being hit by car on Lima Road Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies downtown Washington Boulevard crash victim Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies Hawthorn Suites shooting victim Full Story

Racism in football is 'bubbling up again,' says UK anti-racism head

Sanjay Bhandari, the head of Kick It Out - a leading UK organization that works to tackle discrimination in professional and grassroots football - believes racism in the sport is getting worse.

Posted: Feb 5, 2020 10:50 AM
Updated: Feb 5, 2020 10:50 AM

The head of Kick It Out, a leading UK organization that works to tackle discrimination in professional and grassroots football, believes racism in the sport is "worse now than it was five years ago."

Sanjay Bhandari, who took over the position in September, says complacency from fans and governing bodies could allow football to regress even further.

According to the organization, reports of discrimination rose by 32% in 2018/19 compared to the previous season.

Racism remains the most common form of discrimination and has risen "alarmingly," Kick It Out says, with reports increasing by 43%.

"Football is very different to what it was in the 1970s, racism is not the endemic thing that it was in the 1970s," Bhandari tells Darren Lewis.

"Over a 40, 50 year period? We've definitely [made progress]. But it's worse than it was five years ago, and it's worse than it was seven years ago.

"So I'd say we used to be up there," he says, gesturing to the peak on an imaginary graph. "It's come down and now it's bubbling up again.

"So our challenge is we've got to avoid the complacency of not going back to what it was in the 70s and 80s and thinking that: 'Don't worry, we never can do that' -- we could."

READ: How the scourge of racism continues to tarnish English football

READ: FIFA and UEFA 'may as well have stood in stands' with racists, says ex-England star

'Singled out'

Kick It Out is not without its critics.

The organization has no power to impose sanctions on individuals or groups found guilty of racism at football matches and there was confusion when the Premier League last year decided to launch its own campaign -- 'No Room for Racism' -- which clashed with Kick It Out's 25th anniversary.

It's also been suggested that the organization would be better served with a former black professional footballer at its head. However, Bhandari says his experiences as an ethnic minority fan in the 1990s allows him to put himself in the players' shoes.

"I've been at games going way back, 30-plus years, where you were hearing the kind of chants about people of my color," he recalls. "I'd rather be a P*** than a 'Jock' I remember at Euro 96 in the England-Scotland game.

"In a few games at Wembley, elsewhere, following my team around the country, where I'd get singled out because I was often the only Asian person in a crowd of white people -- my friends go into a game and you'd be singled out.

"I remember coming out of the cup final many years ago and a bunch of fans throwing their coffee over me and throwing their chicken dinner over me because they were upset that we'd won and they'd lost.

"So I can have empathy with the feelings the players would have. What I don't have is 30,000 people or 5,000 people -- however many people it is doing that -- and having that feeling, so I don't have that feeling that the England players would have had in Bulgaria."

READ: Turkish club Trabzonspor files criminal complaint after player is racially abused

READ: Dutch football match halted after 'Black Pete' chants

Kick it Out as well FIFA, UEFA and other national federations have received criticism for what many perceive to be inaction in the face of a rise in racism.

But Bhandari believes the problems within football are also reflective of a society that has seen a rise in hate crimes since the 'Brexit' vote in 2016.

According to UK government statistics, police recorded crime figures in England and Wales showed in 2018/19 that there were 103,379 offences "where one or more of the central monitored hate crime strands were deemed to be a motivating factor."

That was 10% higher than in 2017/18.

"The intentions are all clear and I don't doubt those intentions, everyone seems to me very genuine that they want to continue this fight and to win this fight," says Bhandari of the efforts to combat racism.

"I can see that it's frustrating that every time there's an incident, that's taken as evidence that we're not doing enough," added Bhandari. "Well, actually, the reality is, how does that correlate with the rise in hate crime? Because hate crime happens across the country.

"If there's a terrorist incident, I'll be careful the next day going on the tube because someone's gonna say something to me and I'll put my headphones in because I know someone's going to say something to me.

"People feel emboldened to express racist views, which they maybe would not have expressed about 10 years ago. You've got a rise in hate crime more generally because you've got this rise in tension -- and that's being reflected in football as it is elsewhere."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 595436

Reported Deaths: 9466
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion822851311
Lake44626670
Allen32165543
Hamilton28684308
St. Joseph26917378
Elkhart24173343
Vanderburgh18856236
Tippecanoe17638125
Johnson14687289
Porter14513163
Hendricks14010242
Madison10715216
Vigo10540177
Clark10349135
Monroe9189108
Delaware8956134
LaPorte8867158
Howard7982140
Kosciusko791380
Warrick652994
Hancock646999
Bartholomew631096
Floyd6205107
Wayne5984159
Grant5874110
Dubois547175
Boone538867
Morgan524192
Henry497764
Marshall495384
Cass475362
Dearborn464545
Noble463157
Jackson417846
Shelby405680
Lawrence383876
Clinton367840
Gibson360058
DeKalb339163
Montgomery338152
Harrison333643
Knox329839
Miami312743
Steuben309343
Adams297435
Whitley297225
Wabash294947
Ripley294345
Putnam288047
Jasper285234
Huntington284959
White269138
Daviess263073
Jefferson253838
Decatur243482
Fayette242948
Greene237062
Posey234427
Wells231347
LaGrange225061
Clay219032
Scott218538
Randolph209845
Jennings193935
Sullivan189632
Spencer184319
Fountain180527
Washington179321
Starke172743
Jay163922
Fulton161130
Owen161137
Carroll153915
Orange152933
Rush151618
Perry149327
Vermillion145833
Franklin144433
Tipton129232
Parke12918
Pike114326
Blackford109222
Pulaski95337
Newton89821
Brown85931
Benton85310
Crawford7719
Martin70713
Warren6637
Switzerland6235
Union6146
Ohio4727
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 836049

Reported Deaths: 10323
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin98533705
Cuyahoga831801065
Hamilton61931441
Montgomery42028399
Summit33849736
Lucas30524605
Butler30003228
Stark25093419
Warren19083140
Lorain18418212
Mahoning16931337
Lake15592136
Clermont15335105
Delaware1403077
Licking12819132
Trumbull12515307
Fairfield1232480
Greene11729135
Medina11286165
Clark10672264
Wood10081156
Allen9639126
Portage9006107
Miami895273
Richland8910116
Marion7377113
Tuscarawas7177174
Columbiana7164124
Pickaway710350
Wayne6855165
Muskingum678241
Erie5976118
Hancock542990
Ross535287
Scioto527063
Geauga491755
Darke459489
Ashtabula443172
Lawrence439353
Union437028
Sandusky427462
Mercer427387
Seneca417357
Auglaize416259
Huron416138
Shelby413521
Jefferson409066
Belmont403740
Washington375940
Putnam367872
Athens36759
Madison343429
Knox340122
Ashland336838
Fulton328543
Defiance322578
Crawford316371
Preble313836
Brown298819
Logan296529
Ottawa283934
Clinton281243
Williams272866
Highland266018
Jackson259043
Guernsey245325
Champaign244427
Fayette229729
Morrow22574
Perry223318
Holmes220362
Henry213547
Hardin206433
Coshocton199620
Van Wert198744
Wyandot192549
Gallia192126
Adams167415
Pike167417
Hocking165523
Carroll151316
Paulding141121
Noble118740
Meigs105021
Monroe97229
Harrison8598
Morgan79728
Vinton67613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 17°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 15°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 17°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 19°
Sunshine, Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events