Anti-discrimination organisation Kick it Out says educating rather than punishing fans should be top priority after a start to the Premier League season marred by illicit chants.
Controversy has raged over a Manchester United chant which involved a racist stereotype around Romelu Lukaku while Chelsea fans came under fire for a chant towards Alvaro Morata deemed anti-Semitic.
Furthermore, a Leicester City fan was fined for homophobic abuse following a game against Brighton & Hove Albion in August.
Kick it Out has previously condemned the behaviour of the offending fans but wants to provide more education and information in order to better explain why these chants are unacceptable.
“Education sits central to everything we do,” CEO Roisin Wood told Goal at the Leaders in Sport summit at Stamford Bridge.
“We have no interest in banning fans unless it’s proportionate to what they’ve done. What we’re interested in saying to some fans is that it’s not what the player wants and not what the club wants.
“Some fans have actually come through to us and said ‘we do find that offensive, we don’t want to hear that’.
“That’s what’s important, to educate fans. We’re not there to punish you. You’re supporting your player, your club, I get that, so talk to us about some of the things you could do to help.”
Anti-discrimination efforts Europe-wide are under the spotlight this week with Lazio being forced to play their next two Serie A home fixtures in front of an empty Curva Nord following racist chanting towards two Sassuolo players last weekend, while UEFA has opened proceedings against Spartak Moscow after a Liverpool under-21 player suffered abuse in a UEFA Youth League match last week.
And, despite the chanting in the Premier League, Wood believes British football remains at the forefront of the fight against discrimination across the continent.
“I think we’re still leading the way,” she says. “We’ve come a long way in the last 25 years. Is there loads to do? Absolutely there is. But I still see some of the things coming through to us from Europe and I’m talking to people who have travelled abroad with some of the teams and they say you’re not going to hear here what you’re hearing there.
“We’ve still got loads to do but I think we’re not very good at communicating what we do sometimes. We need to get better at that. The messages of diversity and inclusion, I just don’t think we tell the world that all the time.”
The Leaders Sport Business Summit, taking place during Leaders Week at Chelsea FC, gathers 1800 director level executives from all over the world to share intelligence and spark discussions that will help shape the future of sport. For more information please visit: https://leadersinsport.com/leaders-week/