Spotlight on racial violence: October-December 2012

Spotlight on racial violence: October-December 2012


Written by: Jon Burnett

An overview of racist attacks and convictions over the last three months.

Earlier this week, Kick it Out chair Herman Ouseley resigned from the Football Association (FA), describing the authorities’ efforts to fight racism in football in 2012 as ‘wasted in hypocrisy’. Lord Ouseley spoke of an ‘establishment [that] seemed to be looking after its favourites’. He referred (among other things) to Liverpool FC’s decision to back their striker Louis Suárez, his teammates wearing t-shirts portraying him as the victim of injustice despite him being banned for racially abusing another player. He noted Chelsea FC’s failure to condemn in any way their captain despite him receiving a ban for using racist language to another player, and highlighted the England manager’s decision to pick the same player for a major tournament while dropping the brother of the target.[1]

Ouseley’s condemnation comes at a time when racist incidents at games are being reported routinely. On 9 December, the Manchester derby was marred by racist abuse and a Manchester United player was racially abused via Twitter after the match. The day before, a Norwich City player was racially abused several times by Swansea City supporters. A few days earlier, two men were arrested in relation to racist insults shouted at two players at a game between Derby County and Birmingham City in November. At the beginning of December, Arsenal players, on loan to Charlton, claimed they heard racist abuse from fans at an away game at Millwall; this came soon after fans in a (Tottenham – West Ham) London derby were arrested for racist ‘gestures’ – thought to be Nazi salutes.

Heightened attention on racism in the game is reflected in a stream of media coverage. Does this mean that there is a sudden resurgence of racism in football, or how else should we read what is happening? Could it be that social media provide new conduits for racist abuse, and it may be that a racism, which has simply never gone away, is now seized upon by a press which had ignored the issue for years.

What is clear is that racism in football reflects a wider backdrop of racist harassment, abuse and attacks in society. For example, over the last few months, a Muslim family in Nottingham have been terrorised in their new home, with racist graffiti daubed on their path and a cross wrapped in ham propped against their door; two women have admitted, in a court in Dundee, to both beating a Muslim woman to the floor, ripping of her hijab and stealing her phone, and calling her pregnant friend a ‘f*****g black African’ and assaulting her; A Gypsy couple in Yeovil had petrol poured over the front of their home, one of several incidents targeted at them. Across the UK, incidents such as these happen on a daily basis.

When Lord Ouseley resigned from the FA, he criticised the way clubs appear happy to condemn the racist abuse of fans, whilst backing their highly valued players to the hilt when they are accused of racially abusing others, as evidence of a ‘moral vacuum’. His appeal to morality came only a few weeks after two police officers were found not guilty of racially aggravated harassment, despite one of them describing a black member of the public as a ‘monkey’. The officer’s excuse was that he was simply talking about evolution. It appears that the football authorities are not the only ones to condemn racism in some contexts, but ignore it in others, preferring instead to look after their ‘assets’.

Below is a selection of racist attacks and convictions over the last three months.

Racism in football

  • 11 December 2012: A teenager was arrested for allegedly sending a racist tweet to Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown after a World Cup qualifier between Wales and Scotland. (BBC News, 11 December 2012)
  • 9 December 2012: A fan was arrested for racist chanting at a game between Manchester City and Manchester United. The following day, a 15-year-old boy was arrested in relation to a racist tweet sent to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. (Guardian, 11 December 2012)
  • 2 December 2012: Anti-Semitic chanting by Huddersfield Town fans against Leeds United supporters was allegedly heard during a derby match. West Yorkshire Police released a statement saying they were investigating the matter. (Kick it Out, 4 December 2012)
  • 1 December 2012: Charlton substitutes Danny Haynes and Emmanuel Frimpong tweeted that they were the victims of racist abuse by Millwall fans during the game. They did not pursue a formal complaint and the case was closed. (This is Local London, 3 December 2012)
  • 30 November 2012: A teenager was fined after encouraging people on Twitter to sing a racist chant at a forthcoming match between Hereford United and Cheltenham Town. (Hereford Times, 30 November 2012)
  • 27 November 2012: Norwich City made a formal police complaint about alleged racist tweets directed at their defender Sebastion Bassong after a game against Everton. (Scotsman, 27 November 2012)
  • 26 November 2012: West Ham issued their first lifetime ban of a supporter following anti-Semitic chanting directed at Tottenham fans in a match that had taken place a few days earlier. Two other men were arrested for racist gestures, thought to be Nazi salutes. (Independent, 27 November 2012)
  • 25 November 2012: A Brighton and Hove Albion fan was banned from the club’s stadium for five years after he was heard using racist language during a game against Leeds United on 2 November. (Brighton Argus, 25 November 2012)
  • 24 November 2012: A Sunderland fan was pictured making what appeared to be monkey gestures to a black player on loan to West Bromwich Albion. He was later arrested and claimed that he was mimicking a chicken, not a monkey. (BBC News, 28 November 2012)
  • 24 November 2012: A Derby County fan reported hearing racist chanting during a match against Birmingham City. Two men were later arrested. (Derby Telegraph, 7 December 2012)
  • 22 November 2012: Two teenagers were banned from attending games for three years for their part in racist chanting directed at schoolboys during a ‘Daggers [Dagenham & Redbridge] against racism’ match earlier in the year. (Kick it Out, 22 November 2012)
  • 20 November 2012: A Stoke City fan was banned from attending football matches for three years after it came to light he had racially abused Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, calling him a ‘monkey’ during a game between the two clubs in September. (Sports Mole, 20 November 2012)
  • 16 November 2012: A Manchester City fan was banned for five years for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers players, including calling Anton Ferdinand a ‘black b*****d’, during a game in September. When the man was confronted by another spectator, he protested ‘John Terry said it’. (Manchester Evening News, 16 November 2012)
  • 7 November 2012: A fan arrested after making monkey gestures during a Chelsea vs Manchester United game on 31 October was banned from Chelsea’s ground pending the outcome of a police investigation. (London Evening Standard, 7 November 2012)
  • 2 November 2012: Police announced they were investigating the racial abuse of a Crawley Town player by a Wigan Athletic fan on Twitter. The two teams had played each other the previous week, and the incident was reported to the police by a Crawley fan. Wigan Athletic declined to comment. (Wigan Observer, 2 November 2012)
  • 21 October 2012: Leicester Nirvana FC reported that Blaby and Whetstone fans made racist comments, monkey noises and invaded the pitch after the two teams had finished playing a game. (Leicester Mercury, 7 November 2012)
  • 21 October 2012: An Everton fan allegedly hurled racist insults at Everton player Victor Anichebe (calling him a ‘monkey’) and Queens Park Rangers captain Park Ji-Sung (calling him a ‘ch**k’) during a match between the two teams. (Sport Witness, 5 November 2012)

Anti-Muslim attacks

  • 12 December 2012: A man was charged with racially aggravated harassment in relation to a pig’s head being placed outside a mosque in Berkshire in October. (BBC News, 12 December 2012)
  • 11 December 2012:  A court in Glasgow heard how a woman and a 15-year-old girl ripped a hijab from a Muslim woman’s head in September  and repeatedly punched her on her face and body when she fell to the ground. The attackers also punched the Muslim woman’s friend, a pregnant woman, calling her a ‘f*****g black African’. (STV News, 11 December 2012)
  • 8 December 2012: In Nottingham, offensive graffiti was daubed on the path of a Muslim family’s home, the latest of a spate of racist incidents directed at them in the space of a few weeks, including a cross wrapped in ham being balanced by their front door. A 13-year-old boy was arrested. (BBC News, 9 December 2012)
  • 20 November 2012: Pieces of ham were thrown at a mosque in Crawley, causing anxiety and anger amongst worshipers. A 16-year-old boy was later arrested and bailed. (ITV News, 27 November 2012)
  • 19 November 2012: A senior EDL member was arrested in connection with graffiti that was sprayed on mosques and Sikh temples, including the letters ‘EDL’, in the south-west in September 2012. (Bristol Post, 19 November 2012)
  • 17 November 2012: Two people were arrested, one for ‘racial chanting’, during a demonstration against the proposed opening of a mosque in Sunderland. The demonstration was held by the Northern Patriotic Front, formed by ex-National Front members. (Northern Echo, 18 November 2012)
  • 12 November 2012: Offensive graffiti was spray-painted in view of a mosque in Woking. A 19-year-old woman was later arrested and bailed. (BBC News, 15 November 2012)
  • 12 November 2012:  A man was released on bail pending sentencing for an incident in January when he racially abused three Asian men who had escaped a house fire and hurled a large metal sword at them. (STV News, 12 November 2012)
  • 7 November 2012: A man in Burton, Stoke, was given a suspended 12-week jail sentence for a September attack in which he hurled racist abuse at three Muslim schoolgirls, who fled to a nearby shop. One of the girls later said, ‘He looked really angry as if he hated us because we were not white’. (Burton Mail, 7 November 2012)

Attacks on people in their homes

  • December 2012: A Slovakian man in Crewe was assaulted by a six white men in a brutal unprovoked racist attack which left him with a badly broken wrist. (Crewe Chronicle, 12 December 2012)
  • 26 November 2012: An investigation was launched after residents of a block of flats in Hampshire were subjected to a campaign of racist abuse. A swastika had been painted on the wall, and death threats had been scribbled on a communal area. One woman, who had reported incidents to the police, had had the words ‘grassing b***h’ written on her front door. (The is Hampshire, 26 November 2012)
  • 15 November 2012:  A woman was evicted from her home in West Ewell, Surrey, after being convicted of racist abuse and punching and head-butting a woman, as well as abusing and intimidating several neighbours. (West Ewell Guardian, 3 December 2012)
  • 6 November 2012: At around 2am, a couple in their Somerset home, with three children, were woken up by noises outside and found that the front of their house had been covered in petrol. The couple said that they had been called ‘dirty Gypsies’ in the past and had their car smashed. Fearing for their children’s safety, they asked to be rehoused. (Western Gazette, 8 November 2012)

Street attacks

  • 1 November 2012: A Pakistani refugee in Glasgow, walking down a street in broad daylight with his sister, was head-butted, slapped and racially abused by a man who asked him ‘are you responsible for trafficking women in this area?’ The attacker fled when customers of a nearby bar intervened. (Glasgow Herald, 2 November 2012)
  • 29 October 2012: A court in Belfast heard how a migrant worker walking home in June was set upon by two men who whipped him with their belts and tried to put a belt around his throat. They then threw a large rock at him but missed and smashed a window in his home, before threatening to burn his family and kidnap his children. (BBC News, 29 October 2012)
  • 24 October 2012: An appeal was launched after a black woman in Folkstone was punched in the head by a group of white girls. When she went to look for the attackers with her daughter, they were racially abused by a group of youths. (Kent News, 24 October 2012)
  • 6 October 2012: A woman who was among a group of people who racially abused an Asian man in Manchester before kicking him to the floor and stamping on his head was given a 12-month community order. The judge described the attack as ‘horrifying’ and said that he was giving the woman a ‘last chance’. (BBC News, 26 October 2012)

Attacks in the night-time economy and attacks on workers

  • 4 December 2012: An army sergeant was given a 12-month community order for an incident in Salisbury in 2010 in which he racially abused someone from his own regiment on a night out, eventually having to be restrained by doormen. (Salisbury Journal, 4 December 2012)
  • 26 November 2012: Two friends who on 19 August subjected staff at an Indian restaurant in Cheadle to a tirade of racist abuse, waving a Union flag at them whilst being egged on by drinkers from a nearby pub, were given 12-month restraining orders. One of the perpetrators was a former BNP member. (Stoke Sentinel, 26 November 2012)
  • 15 November 2012: A man was given a prison sentence after racially abusing and threatening another patient in a doctor’s surgery in Poplar. The attacker had been kicking his victim’s 5-year-old daughter’s chair in the waiting room, and when he was asked to stop, he launched into a tirade of abuse, calling him a ‘f*****g P**i’ before ringing a friend, saying ‘I have got some P**i in the surgery. Are you guys coming? I’m going to slice him up.’ (Docklands & East London Advertiser, 15 November 2012)
  • 9 November 2012:  A teenager who hurled racist insults at his care worker in Burnley later pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated threatening or insulting behaviour, but justified his actions by explaining ‘I like being a racist’. (Lancashire Telegraph, 26 November 2012)
  • 3 November 2012: A taxi driver in Redditch was subjected to racist abuse by four white teenagers who then dragged him from his seat and assaulted him, leaving him with facial injuries. (Redditch Advertiser, 5 November 2012)
  • November 2012: An Iranian bar-owner in Weymouth was targeted with death threats and persistent racist abuse in a Facebook campaign after a false rumour spread that he had banned people wearing remembrance poppies in his premises. (Dorset Echo, 14 November 2012)
  • 31 October 2012: A white couple were injured when they were hit by fireworks as they stood in a shop owned by a Sri Lankan family in Bristol. The shop owners explained, ‘The young ones target us and there’s a lot of racist abuse. Other businesses don’t seem to be targeted as much. We are being hit by them all the time. We knew it would be bad because of Halloween but the firework being thrown is really serious.’ (Bristol Evening Post,  3 November 2012)
  • 5 October 2012:  A customer, already banned from an off-licence in Coventry, was asked to leave when he tried to enter. He then got his friend to buy him what he wanted, and re-entered the building hurling racist abuse at staff members and spitting in one man’s face. (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 1 November 2012)


Kick it Out

Read an IRR News story: ‘Spotlight on racial violence: July-September 2012

Read an IRR News story: ‘Racism: on the pitch but off the agenda

Read an IRR interview: ‘Fighting racism in football-the way forward

[1] David Conn, ‘Exclusive: Kick it Out slams top clubs for "year wasted in hypocrisy"’, Guardian (10 December 2012).  

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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