Kick It Out has revealed a 42% increase in reports of discrimination in English professional football last season, which it describes as “shocking”.
The anti-discrimination charity says reports it received rose from 313 in 2018-19 to 446, despite some games being behind closed doors. Reports of racism in the professional game rose 53% and those of abuse based on sexual orientation increased by 95%.
A poll also found 71% had seen players targeted by racism on social media.
The YouGov poll of 1,000 fans, commissioned by Kick It Out, also showed that 30% of fans had heard racist comments or chants at a match. Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out said football had “responded positively” to the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd in the United States in May, which led to global protests.
But he added: “Beneath the surface, hate and division in society remains a lurking pernicious threat.
“Our reports indicate a steep rise in discrimination reports over the last two years, which reflect the hate crime statistics from the Home Office that show marked national increases over the last four years.
“We know that reports to Kick It Out are just the tip of the iceberg. We only report what is reported to us.”
Football was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Premier League and Championship resuming in June without fans in stadiums.