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Football: Abuse

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 78489, tabled on 22 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to work with the football authorities to help tackle racist abuse of players (a) in person and (b) online; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

4 September 2020

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in football or society, whether in person or online.

The Government continues to liaise closely with all the football authorities about their work to tackle discrimination. This includes actions targeted at and around football grounds, such as improving reporting systems, providing better training and support for referees and stewards, and improving the quality of CCTV around stadia.

What is unacceptable offline is also unacceptable online. As set out in the Online Harms White Paper, we intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users which will be overseen by an independent regulator. The ‘duty of care’ will ensure companies take risk-based and proportionate steps to keep their users safe from harms including harassment and abuse.

The criminal law must be fit for purpose to deal with online harms. DCMS and the Ministry of Justice have engaged the Law Commission on a second phase of their review of abusive and offensive online communications. The Law Commission will review existing communications offences and make specific recommendations about options for reform, to ensure that criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against such behaviour. The Law Commission is also looking into the adequacy of protection offered by hate crime legislation, and this review is expected to report in 2021.

We will continue to work with all the football authorities to tackle discrimination in the game.