The Government is demanding a summit with football leaders to address fears a new wave of racism is blighting the game. The “urgent” meeting with the Football Association, Premier League, Football League and players’ representatives is one of the first major initiatives by Mims Davies since she took over as sports minister in November.
Stonewall and Kick It Out will also be invited to the meeting in a bid to agree on a new “zero tolerance” approach to discrimination at matches.
Chelsea, Tottenham and Millwall have all faced allegations of racism on the terraces this season. The Football Association could use recently beefed-up powers to sanction Millwall after fans were recorded discriminating against the Pakistani community in the FA Cup on Jan 26.
“Together, we must find a way to tackle this,” Davies said. “Those involved in abuse are not football fans. They are using football as a cloak for discriminatory, and often criminal, behaviour. They are not welcome in our stadiums.”
The debate around racism in football reignited in December after the Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling was abused during a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. It came a week after a banana skin was thrown at the Arsenal attacker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the match against Tottenham Hotspur.