More ethnic minority fans are attending Premier League matches
Research commissioned by the governing body found that the Premier League “is seen to have reflected changes in broader British society, which has become more tolerant towards different cultural and religious groups”. It found there is a greater problem regarding racism around the England team and in the lower divisions.
According to Populus, nearly 50% more members of the black and ethnic minority community attend Premier League matches than are a proportion of the overall population. The research also discovered a third more ethnic minorities follow Premier League clubs than fans who are white.
While Suárez is likely to appeal his eight-match ban after being found guilty of making racist comments to Patrice Evra of Manchester United – and Terry’s case will be heard at a London magistrates’ court in February – the Premier League told the Observer it is confident more ethnic minority fans are attending games, where “policing, stewarding, CCTV and new stadia” are helping to make them feel welcome.
A Premier League spokesperson said: “With the recent focus on a couple of high-profile cases, it is easy to overlook the overwhelmingly positive relationship football has with this issue in terms of raising awareness and breaking down barriers. We live in an increasingly diverse society, one that the Premier League has embraced on and off the field. Wherever there is discrimination the English football authorities have faced them head on and will continue to do so.”
Racism in top-flight football is seen to be less of a problem than it has been in the past, according to the findings. Most ethnic minority fans in the focus groups who attended Premier League matches had not encountered racism; their matchday experience is much better than the perceptions of those who have not attended matches; and they feel more safe and comfortable in stadiums as more women, children, middle-class spectators and other ethnic minorities have started going to matches.
The research found that the England team, “which is perceived to attract strong nationalistic views from supporters”, the lower leagues and foreign leagues, such as in Spain and Italy – “where there can be abuse of black players in European matches” – were deemed to have a greater problem with racism.
Populus found that 11% of fans at Premier League matches, compared to 8% of the general population, were ethnic minorities and that 49% of ethnic minority adults are interested in football, rising from 42% in 2009-10. In addition, 44% of ethnic minority men follow a Premier League club, compared to 33% of white men.