Lord Herman Ouseley - 'Football needs to take responsibility'
Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, has issued a statement focusing on the need to take responsibility across football if the game is truly committed to eradicating prejudice and discrimination.
Lord Ouseley, said: “Once again, the weekend has been marred by a number of abusive incidents further demonstrating the high levels of prejudice and discrimination within football and wider British society. The reality is that this barely scratches the surface of what is a widespread issue continuing to blight the game across the country and English football’s image abroad.
“We received several reports throughout the course of yesterday (22 February) afternoon bringing to our attention video footage of West Ham United fans leading antisemitic chants on a train heading towards White Hart Lane for their Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur.
“We have liaised with the British Transport Police which has confirmed it is investigating the matter. If you witnessed the incident or have any information, please report this directly to the British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016, quoting the reference 420 of 22/02.
“We are also in close contact with the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council, and are calling for urgent action to be taken by the Police and the authorities to catch the perpetrators and punish them for their behaviour.
“What would have happened if we hadn’t seen this footage or it hadn’t been reported? We need to give people the confidence to challenge discriminatory and abusive behaviour, and this can only be reinforced by action being taken by the Police and within football by the clubs and authorities.
“The Community Security Trust issued statistics earlier this month showing record levels of antisemitism since it started monitoring incidents in 1984. Our own statistics from the 2013/14 season highlighted antisemitism as the second most common form of discrimination reported to us.
“Antisemitism must be tackled with the same vigour as all other forms of discrimination. There is a heightened level of concern within the Jewish community about antisemitism with some feeling unable to live their everyday lives without fear of harassment, abuse and violence.
“Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said last month that the UK ‘must redouble its efforts to wipe out antisemitism’. Antisemitism which occurs within football should not be treated differently to any other discriminatory incidents. This type of behaviour is all interlinked and it must be stopped.
“Football across the board, and that includes everyone involved in the game, especially at the highest levels, need to take responsibility and start asserting themselves by condemning this behaviour and acting upon it when it occurs.
“All too often there is silence or half-hearted statements made by those with power and influence when it comes to countering discrimination within the game. This must change now if we are to make a difference. We cannot go on any longer operating with a silo mentality in which everyone looks to someone else to take responsibility but never does so themselves.”