Racism in football: how has opinion changed among ethnic minority fans?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
August 05, 2021, 1:27 PM GMT+0

Since March, another 20% have come to see taking the knee as important in combating racism

The Three Lions made headlines by continuing to taking the knee throughout the Euro 2020 tournament in protest at racial inequality and abuse. Now, ahead of the start of the new domestic season, the EFL has reaffirmed their support for players and staff members choosing to continue taking the knee before matches.

Taking the knee is seen as increasingly important

YouGov research also shows that since spring, the act of players and staff taking the knee is increasingly seen as important in the fight against racism. Eight in ten ethnic minority Britons interested in football now say taking the knee is important in tacking racism, compared to 61% who said the same in March. This includes a majority thinking that it is “very important” in tackling racism (58%), an increase of 30 percentage points compared to March.

Only one in ten (10%) think the gesture is not important in tackling racism in football, down from 32% who held this opinion in earlier in the year.

Has the reaction from the sport improved in the eyes of ethnic minority fans?

Elsewhere YouGov research shows that, while opinion is divided, fewer ethnic minority fans think that professional football as a whole is under-reacting to the issue of racism in the sport.

Approaching two in five (38%) now say that professional football is under-reacting to racism, compared to half (50%) who said this in March. Another 38% since think the reaction to the issue is now about right (+13 points versus March).

Only 15% of fans think that the sport is over-reacting to the issue, similar to the 16% who held this opinion in the previous iteration of this survey.

Most groups within professional football are still not doing enough to tackle racism

Three Lions defender Tyrone Mings recently described the racist abuse of England players following the Euro 2020 final as “not surprising” and among ethnic minority fans, opinion of fan efforts to tackle racism remains low.

Some 79% of ethnic minority fans say that football fans as a whole are not doing enough to combat racial abuse in football, the highest for all the groups asked about.

When it comes to football associations, 77% think international bodies such as FIFA and UEFA are not doing enough to put an end to racism in professional football, up from 69% in March. Another 72% think that the FA is also not doing enough to tackle the issue.

Another seven in ten (70%) are less than impressed with the reaction of the police to the issue and believe they could be doing more to crack down on racial abuse in professional football.

For football clubs, six in ten (60%) ethnic minority fans think they could be doing more to tackle racist abuse, however 30% think they are doing enough.

Players themselves are the only group where the majority of ethnic minority fans think they are now doing enough to tackle the issue; 54% now say that football players are doing enough, up from 43% in March. This is compared to 38% of fans who think players could be doing more.

Football continues to have a serious problem with racism

Our first poll of ethnic minority football fans following the Euro 2020 tournament and abuse of players after the final reveals that the vast majority continue to see football as having a serious problem with racism. Eight in ten (82%) now say the sport has a serious issue with racism, up four percentage points from March, and a further 13% think it exists but is not serious.

This is compared to 71% of English football fans who also take this view that professional football has a serious issue with racial abuse, an increase of 14 points compared to March.

See full results for July here and for March here

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