London College of Communication students were joined recently by Channel 4 Dispatches producer Johnny McDevitt for an exclusive showing of the documentary Hate on the Terraces. Third-year BA (Hons) Sports Journalism student Miles Crallan reports.
Film-maker and LCC alumnus McDevitt presented the short documentary which was aired on British television earlier in the year. A guest panel was also on hand, with Amanda Jacks from the Football Supporters Federation and Dr Colin King from the Black and Asian Coaches Association there to discuss the issue.
Hate on the Terraces went undercover to reveal the extent of racism and homophobia in top-flight football across England. It showed how a minority of fans with a range of ages are taking part in systematic chanting throughout the nation.
Former Premier League and Grenada international Jason Roberts spoke at length in the documentary about the extent of the racism he has received throughout his 17-year playing career.
“I’ve heard it on Sundays as a young man. I’ve heard it in Non-League, I’ve heard it in Division Two, Division One, Championship and I’ve even heard it in the Premier League.
“I’ve had it from people in the street, I’ve had it from team-mates, I’ve had it from managers, I’ve had it from coaches and I’ve had it from crowds.”
King was quick to question the way in which the Dispatches documentary portrayed this abuse.
“If I was a film-maker, I’m not sure I would have done it the same way or used the same articulation or analysis.”
Jacks, who has a wealth of experience in dealing with football supporters who have been banned from stadiums for racist abuse, said:
“What was missing from the film was the huge amount of work supporters themselves do against racism.
“A very recent example of this was when some Middlesbrough fans burnt the Koran in Birmingham. Lots of [other] fans were very vehement in their distaste for it and some took to the streets to demonstrate this.”
The investigation also explores how police and stewards at football stadiums are dealing with the situation, with many of the fans who shout deeply abusive language going unpunished.
King, himself a former steward, was quick to defend the crowd safety controllers.
“I feel really sorry about how stewards are disempowered because they are people who aren’t really trained and they aren’t really paid a lot. They are at great risk.”
Quick to defend King was Jacks from the Supporters Federation. She believes that education rather than punishment is the best way to eradicate racist and homophobic abuse in football.
“I think there needs to be far more education. For example, those Everton fans singing about [Daniel] Sturridge. I wouldn’t necessarily put them through the criminal justice system, I would put them through restorative justice.
“Giving them a banning order wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem. It punishes people but doesn’t get to the root of the problem.”
Words by third-year student Miles Crallan.
Read about BA (Hons) Sports Journalism
Read about BA (Hons) Journalism