Record number of discriminatory incidents recorded during 2022/23 football season 

Football’s leading anti-discrimination organisation says it received more than 1,000 reports of discriminatory behaviour across the professional game, grassroots clubs and social media during the 2022/23 football season.

Kick It Out revealed in its latest statistics that it received a record 1,007 reports of discriminatory behaviour across the board, representing a huge 65.1 per cent rise on the previous season.

In the professional game, there were 484 incidents reported, which is an increase of 104 reports (27.4 per cent) on the 2021/22 season.  

At grassroots and non-league level, there were 242 reports, which represents 86 more reported incidents than the previous season, equal to a rise of 55.1 per cent. 

The biggest recorded jump was seen on social media, where 207 incidents were reported during the 2022/23 season – a massive 279 per cent rise on the previous year. 

Overall, reports related to every type of discrimination were up, except in the area of faith-based complaints, where there was a small drop from 95 to 87 year-on-year. 

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Racism, however, remains the most prevalent form of abuse in both professional and grassroots football, accounting for just under half (496/49.3 per cent) of all reports to Kick It Out. The professional game was where the highest number of racist incidents were recorded, with 261 reported during the 2022/23 season. 

Racist incidents were followed in number by incidents relating to sexual orientation (15.5 per cent), with 156 reported – the majority of which (75) were observed in the professional game. 

Kick It Out also found a 400 per cent increase in reports of sexism and misogyny across the board, up from 16 to 80. 

The organisation says this type of abuse has been “amplified” by a massive spike in online abuse towards female players and supporters, with only one report made during the 2021/22 season but 46 in the 2022/23 season. 

Wolves have been fined over homophobic chanting at a match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea FC at Molineux on 8 April (Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Reports of discriminatory mass chanting – which has garnered much media and police attention – dropped by 18 per cent in the most recent season, with Kick It Out receiving 117 reports. 

There was a 35 per cent drop in reports of ‘Y-word’ chants – a derogatory term for Jewish people – a 22.6 per cent drop in reported homophobic chanting and 29.4 per cent fall in reports of anti-Irish chants. 

These figures were released just days before the FA announced Wolverhampton Wanderers would become the first club to be sanctioned for homophobic chanting. 

On 14 July, it was announced Wolves would be handed a landmark six-figure fine after admitting a failure to prevent their fans aiming homophobic chants at Chelsea during a match at Molineux in April. 

The eye-watering £100,000 sum was the result of supporters engaged in chanting “Chelsea rent boy” for a “prolonged” period.

The FA is keen to stamp out the chanting, stating in January it “condemns” all “offensive, abusive and discriminatory chanting in football stadiums”, adding it had informed clubs it considers the ‘rent boy’ chant a breach of FA rules. 

A number of fans were arrested during the April match, with Liam Duce given a three-year football banning order and fined £461 by a court in June for his involvement in homophobic chanting. 

Back in January, another fan – Jake Moyses – was fined £1,213 after pleading guilty to using homophobic gestures during a game between Wolves and Brighton & Hove Albion on 5 November 2022. In the same month, a different fan was arrested at Wolves vs Nottingham Forest’s Carabao Cup quarter final game for homophobic abuse. 

Despite the negative figures, Kick It Out stated it was encouraged that reports per incident rate has risen for the fourth consecutive season, which suggests fans are becoming more inclined to report discrimination when they see it. 

The organisation noted: “The significant leap in reports highlights that discrimination is still a serious issue within the game, although the record figures could also be attributed to an increased awareness of reporting procedures and fans becoming less tolerant of discriminatory behaviour.”

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