UK & World News
'Significant Racism' Remains In Football
Recent racist abuse rows on and off football pitches have shown "significant problems" remain in the game, a report is to suggest.
A study by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, out later, says racism is less common than the dark days of the 1970s and 80s, when it was not uncommon to hear monkey chants coming from the terraces.
The report highlights how much has changed in the country's national game during the last 40 years.
Committee chair John Whittingdale said: ''Much has been done to improve the atmosphere and behaviour at football matches and it has become a much more family friendly activity.
''However, recent incidents of racist abuse in the UK both on and off the pitch have highlighted the fact that there remain significant problems.''
Last year Liverpool's Luis Suarez was suspended for eight games for racially insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
In the summer, Chelsea's John Terry was cleared in court of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. He still faces an FA hearing over the incident.
Racism has also reared its head in the lower levels of the game. Earlier this year racial abuse was directed at Newcastle Benfield's Jordan Lartey at a match against Guisborough Town.
The local FA investigated the remarks, which were picked up by a Sky camera, but no action was taken.
Mr Whittingdale said social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook had become tools for the spread of racist abuse.
Earlier this year Sunderland fan Peter Copeland was given a suspended four-month jail sentence after being found guilty of writing racist comments aimed at Newcastle United's black players.
However, the MP said that such sites were ''also a potential means of combating the ignorance and prejudice that lie behind such behaviour''.
Former defender Paul Elliott, who played top flight football for 15 years at Aston Villa, Pisa and Celtic before injury ended his career prematurely at Chelsea, was a victim of racist abuse.
He is now a campaigner with anti-racist group Kick it Out which is holding an awareness week next month in which players, clubs and fans from all levels of the game will be encouraged to take part.
Elliot said: ''Yes, there has been improvement, but I also think there (have) been challenges and I think it's important that we continue working hard collectively, individually.
"Leadership from the top is important but also with education and zero-tolerance application of the law as well."
Elliott added that football could learn a lesson from the sporting spirit seen at the London Olympics.
He said: ''That visibility, that participation, that embracement and inclusion was one of the true outstanding successes of the Olympics and it would be good if football could get hold of that same magic dust."