Police launch investigation into alleged religious discrimination
An investigation involving police and Middlesbrough Football Club has been launched following allegations Boro fans engaged in religious discrimination.
Online reports suggested a “minority” of Boro fans ripped up copies of the Qu’ran – the religious text for followers of Islam – during the club’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.
The allegations are now the subject of police investigation, with Cleveland Police reviewing CCTV footage of the away crowd at St Andrews.
Middlesbrough Football Club has also vowed to ban for life anyone convicted.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “We are aware of an incident at the match at the weekend and we, along with our colleagues at West Midlands Police, are investigating.
“Inquiries are well under way including examination of CCTV from within the football stadium.
“Any incident such as this is taken extremely seriously by police.
“We will not tolerate such behaviour and it will be fully and thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be brought to justice.”
A Boro spokesman said the club – a “strong supporter of football’s pledge to eradicate racism and intolerance in all its forms” – was aware of an alleged incident involving a “minority” of Boro fans.
“We are keeping in close contact with West Midlands and Cleveland Police as well as our counterparts at Birmingham City as the investigation proceeds,” he said.
The Gazette’s Boro correspondent Anthony Vickers said: “Football has put a lot of time and effort into ridding itself of racism over the last 20 years, with the fans being right at the forefront of that through the fanzines movement.
“Organisations like the Football Supporters Association policing themselves are helping drive racism out of the game.
“It’s the duty of all fans to oppose it wherever it rears its head.”
Anyone with any information on the alleged incident is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101 or call the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
From Gazette Live