Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend calls for racists to face jail time after another weekend of football shame

8 Apr

Kick It Out campaigner Troy Townsend has called on authorities to put racist football fans behind bars following more disgraceful scenes on the weekend.

A Brentford supporter was arrested for racially abusing Derby midfielder Duane Holmes, while police are also investigating a sickening message sent to wing back Nathan Byrne on social media.

Northampton have also revealed that a number of their first-team squad were abused ahead of their game at Notts County as they went on a pre-match walk.

Holmes reported the abuse during Derby’s 3-3 draw at Griffin Park

Last week an amateur cup game was abandoned when one player was abused, which came days after Juventus teenager Moise Kean was targeted by Cagliari fans.

The problem appears to be worsening with each passing week, and Townsend insists it won’t stop unless serious action is taken.

Danny Rose reveals racism in football has made him look forward to the day he retires

“Some of it has nothing to do with the game. Some of it is just downright offensive to the point that some of these people need to be arrested and locked up until they do understand the impact of what they’re saying,” he told talkSPORT.

“I applaud the players who are taking a stance and not just accepting it.

“Players have been let down for the longest period of time because of the actions within the game are not strong enough.”

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha shared a tweet which described him as a ‘diving monkey’ – and Townsend argues that social media serves to fuel racism.

“I’ve seen a statement from Twitter which says they take this stuff seriously, but obviously they don’t,” Townsend added.

Zaha was abused after he won a penalty against Newcastle

“The threatening and racist language should highlight to anyone that you cannot have a platform which serves opinions like it does and then puts out statements which say it takes this stuff really seriously.

“If those social media platforms are not going to recognise the racial hatred that is being groomed on their platforms, then we can talk all we want but no action will ever get taken.”

And Townsend believes it is only a matter of time before players decide enough is enough.


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He continued: “The strength of the players is at its highest. I honestly don’t think we are that far away from players doing what I think they should do and walking off the pitch.

“It’s great us talking about Montenegro, we all come out in force when it happens in Montenegro to our national side.

“But we tend to hide it when it’s happening in our own country. We tend to delay things or hope it’s gone away. The players aren’t allowing that anymore.

Nathan Byrne received racist abuse on Twitter

“We’re not far away from players going, ‘We’ve asked you, you haven’t done anything. If the authorities won’t do anything, we’ll just take the matter into our own hands and walk off a football pitch’.

“It’ll be a sad day for a game, but ultimately it may be the moment where the focus is on everyone to stop talking and start taking action.”

Montenegro should face EXPULSION from Euro 2020 qualifying after racially abusing England players, says Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend

26 Mar

Anti-racism campaigner Troy Townsend believes UEFA should consider kicking Montenegro out of Euro 2020 qualifying after England’s players were racially abused in Podgorica.

The Three Lions’ 5-1 victory was marred by disgraceful scenes of racism after Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi suffered abuse from home supporters.

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Montenegro, including a charge of racist behaviour which, if proven, ‘is punished with a minimum of a partial stadium closure’.

But Townsend, head of development for anti-racism charity Kick It Out, believes the current sanctions are insufficient.

Raheem Sterling cupping his ears towards the Montenegro fans

“I’m not sure UEFA are going to deal with it as effectively as they should,” Townsend told talkSPORT.

“Although there are rules in place, we can change those rules to suit the crime. A £100,000 fine is not effective and it’s not had an impact. So let’s start looking at not only stadium closures, let’s look at expulsions.

“You are responsible for your supporters, whether you like it or not.

“When England were causing mayhem on foreign soil in the past, the FA had to take the brunt of that, so why should these other federations take the brunt of what their fans are doing?

“We have a duty of care to protect our players from situations like that, but that duty of care falls on UEFA first and they have failed.

“UEFA have failed those players and they have failed their own protocol, but who is holding them to account? Absolutely nobody!”

Townsend vented his anger on social media last night, but upon reflection, he was impressed with how the whole situation was handled by England and the FA.

He added: “I was very angry last night, but maybe different this morning.

“You have to process these incidents and that they’re happening again. We put on an event last week just to raise awareness and a week later here we are talking about black players being racially abused again.

“Why should Callum Hudson-Odoi have to come out and, rather than talk about his first start for England, be talking about the fact fans have been calling him a monkey?

Rose and Hudson-Odoi were subjected to racist abuse in Montenegro

“I applaud the players and the manager for the way they have dealt with the situation and the way they have spoken.

“I also applaud the FA and whoever said let’s put those players up, let people hear their passion, let people hear how they’ve been effected and let people understand in this day and age it’s just unacceptable.

“The power of the player’s voice is the biggest thing we have and I applaud those players who went out there and said it exactly how it was.

“Those players were obviously happy to be interviewed, because it was a time where they could have their moment and I’m definitely sure they have empowered players up and down the country to have their say.”

Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend reveals reports of racism have risen for six consecutive years, says negative media stories ‘fuel perception’

10 Dec

Kick It Out campaigner Troy Townsend has told talkSPORT that racism has never gone away with reports of discrimination rising in each of the previous six years.

Two high profile cases have brought racial abuse of footballers back under the spotlight, with a Chelsea fan’s alleged abuse of Raheem Sterling, the Manchester City player, coming just a few days after a Tottenham supporter was arrested for throwing a banana at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Video footage shared on social media showed Chelsea fans hurling abuse at Sterling, which is alleged to have been racist

Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident which took place at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, which Sterling reacted to on Instagram.

Sterling used the social media platform to call out newspapers for ‘fuelling racism’ with their coverage of young black players in comparison to their white compatriots, highlighting how the Daily Mail reported on Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden, both of Manchester City, buying multi-million pound homes despite their youth.

Instagram Photo

Foden, born in Stockport, is treated in a more positive light, while Adarabioyo – who is of Nigerian descent – appears to be criticised for spending money on a house despite never starting a Premier League match; his contract renewal, which came after allegedly threatening to leave the club, is also highlighted early in the story.

Both stories were published earlier this year, and the two recent high profile cases suggest racism has returned to football.

However, Townsend – who works as education manager at equality organisation Kick It Out – claims racism has never gone away, with reports of discrimination increasing in each of the previous six years.

“We just cannot rest on our laurels – racism has never gone away,” Townsend tells talkSPORT.

“We released our report only a couple of weeks ago and six years running we have had an increase of reports and an increase of discrimination.

Racism on the rise again

Kick It Out's most recent annual report covers the 2017/18 season, and it showed a 22 per cent rise in reports of racism for the sixth consecutive year

  • Kick It Out received 520 reports for the period, up from 469 on 2016/17
  • 53 per cent of reports concerned racism, a rise of 22 per cent from the previous year
  • The highest rise in reports concerned disability discrimination, which increased from 14 to 29 (107 per cent)
  • Ten per cent of reports concern antisemitism
  • Grassroots discrimation reports rose by 35 per cent across the period, with 71 per cent of reports at this level concerning racism

“Racism tops the list again; over 50 per cent of our reports are around racism.

“When you go into the grassroots area of the game it is over 70 per cent.

“That identifies as a massive problem to me, and that identifies that we still have massive amounts of work to do.

“Yes, T-shirts are great – I work for Kick It Out and it’s great to have that visibility on matchday – but we very rarely get players talk the way Raheem did, [or] when Rhian Brewster spoke about his experiences.

“It’s very rare that players talk out through their playing days – it is often left until afterwards.”

Sterling claimed the media ‘fuels racism’ the day after he was allegedly verbally assaulted, and Townsend echoes the England forward’s feelings.

He continues: “You’ve got to remember the media is very similar to the footballing world; when you look at the top echelons of both industries there is no representation… there are not people in there who will say ‘hold on a minute, I can tell you the experience of how Raheem feels’.

“We have to take that on board, and we have to use language and terminology within our media that is acceptable in this day and age.

“The media can fuel perception, and that is what they are doing – they are fuelling perception with the stories they are talking about.

“And I’m not just saying the sports media – I’m not just going to criticise the sports media – this is media right across the board; Raheem hits the front pages, the middle pages and the back pages.

“The back pages are often negative. I don’t see Raheem being spoken about in the same breaths as other players, who maybe haven’t won what he’s won or done what he’s done in the game, but when you go through the papers the perception is a negative perception about this young man.”

And the negative perception is entirely based on Sterling being a black man who has done all he can to reach the pinnacle of the field he works in to become successful and wealthy.

Townsend adds: “I say Raheem has been continuously dug out just for being a young, black, successful, wealthy footballer.

“This is not the first time Raheem has been targeted by fans – the young man has been targeted going into his training ground.

Kick It Out's statement on the Sterling incident

“What happened at Chelsea shows what is still going on in football.

“Where is Richard Scudamore? Where is Greg Clarke? Where is Chelsea’s chairman [Bruce Buck]? They should have been talking about [the Sterling incident] last night and it has to be dealt with at the top.

“We do not have any leadership at the top of the game to speak out, they rely on Kick It Out. We have already made comments about the way Raheem Sterling has been treated differently by the media. The print media often targets, not just black players, but all footballers.

“Raheem Sterling has received bad press over the last few years because of his lifestyle, and clearly, there are issues from potential stories adding to prejudice and I have every sympathy for him.

“Players know if they are abused in any way they have to tell the referee. It was awful. All players know the referee is in charge and has a duty of care, and the referee can remove those people. It didn’t appear to me he told the referee in the first place.”

“I can pick out all the negative stories there have been about this young man that are nothing to do with his footballing ability, but have more to do with his wealth.

“Because he is now a young man who is earning quite a lot of money, and apparently black players are not supposed to earn a lot of money.”

Asked whether racism is confined to football or is a problem in Britain as a whole, Townsend made his feelings very clear.

“Of course there is [a societal problem]. I’m not a politician but obviously Brexit has seen a massive change in this country, and it is going to impact this country for a long time.

“We are now ‘judgemental Britain’ – we judge everything.

“Of course it’s a societal problem, but football has a massive say on that problem, and what is put on the front and back pages influences people and their judgements as well.

“That is why it is so important we support people like Raheem rather than be negative about what he is talking about.”