A third of ethnic minority football fans have experienced racism at stadiums

Adam McDonnellAssociate Director of Political and Social Research
August 26, 2021, 12:43 PM UTC

One in eight who are not planning to attend a match live this season say this is due to concerns over racism 

With most sport being played behind closed doors over the last 18 months, many fans were itching to return to football grounds as the new premier league kicked off earlier this month. To coincide with the new season, YouGov has partnered with Sky News and Sky Sports to take a look at racism in stadiums, focusing specifically on the experiences of ethnic minority football fans.

Our research finds that a third (33%) of ethnic minority football fans who have watched a match at a stadium have personally experienced racist abuse while there, including 8% saying this has happened to them “many” times. This figure rises to 43% when we look at those who go to football stadiums at least once a year. A parallel poll of all football fans in Britain mirrors, these findings with 29% of those who have been to a football ground saying they have witnessed racist abuse at least once.


When it comes to racist language being used in stadiums, such as during chants, 41% of all football fans who have attended a stadium say they have heard such language, with this figure rising to 56% amongst those from an ethnic minority background. Indeed, 14% of football fans admit to having used racist language when they have watched a game at a stadium. More generally, six in 10 (63%) have heard language that others may find offensive, while 40% say they have used this language themselves.

Looking at the current season, there is concern amongst ethnic minority fans who are planning to attend a game around racism in football grounds. Three-quarters (73%) are concerned about personally experiencing racist abuse, while 79% are concerned they will witness racist abuse directed at a player. Of those who do not plan to attend a stadium this year, 13% site racism as their main reason for not going to a game (6% over fear of personally experiencing racism, 7% witnessing others being subject to it).

There is general acceptance amongst all football fans that current measures to tackle racism in stadiums need improvement. Six in ten (60%) say the current punishments for racism abuse are not harsh enough, 18% think they are about right while just 4% think they are too harsh.

See full results ethnic minority fans here, and for white football fans here