|Culture and Sport Secretary Chris Smith today called for more action to stamp out racism in football. |
"The evil of racism has blighted football for too long. It is time to eliminate this poison from the game, for the sake of players and supporters alike," Mr Smith said.
A number of positive schemes to kick racism out of football were beginning to take shape, he said, but far more needs to be done by both our top FA Premier and Football League clubs and within grassroots football.
The launch of the Kick it Out campaign was an opportunity for all levels of the game to join together and finally rid itself of the small minority who tarnish the sport.
Mr Smith said: "Throughout the 1970s and 80s football gained an unenviable reputation as the breeding ground for a number of racist organisations. For many years football has been accused of not taking this issue seriously. Black and Asian players and supporters still feel marginalised and vulnerable to verbal and physical assault."
"The launch of the Kick it Out campaign is a signal to the racist elements that believe that they can hide within the game of football. A movement is gathering pace to expose their unacceptable discrimination. I fully support the campaign's efforts to focus attention on this issue - right through, from the professional game to the local leagues. There can be no hiding place for racism."
"The Government has a part to play to ensure that positive action is taken. That is why, when we established the Football Taskforce, we ensured that one of the major elements of its work was to focus on racism within the game. We have asked the group to draw up recommendations to combat racism in football and encourage wider participation by ethnic minorities, both as players and spectators."
"A number of Football League clubs, including West Bromwich Albion, Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United and Northampton Town have introduced imaginative schemes to stamp out the problem. Other clubs should learn from these positive steps and introduce similar schemes."
"At the local level, the London Borough of Hounslow have successfully pioneered a scheme to ban teams regularly reported for racist behaviour from using their pitches. I hope other local authorities will follow this excellent example."
"Unless the game of football can capitalise on the welcome momentum that is beginning to gather pace, it will continue to be blighted by unacceptable elements of our society."