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12th Jul, 2023

Kick It Out receive record 1,007 reports for 2022-23 season

We have received a record 1,007 reports of discriminatory behaviour in the 2022-23 season, new figures released today show.

This total, which includes reports from the professional game, in grassroots and across social media, represents a 65.1% rise on the previous season.

Alarmingly, reports of online abuse skyrocketed by 279%, with the organisation receiving 207 more reports related to online forums and social media than in the previous 12 months.

Racism remains the most common form of discrimination in both professional and grassroots football, accounting for just under half (49.3%) of all reports, while reports related to sexism and misogyny represented the largest rise in a specific discrimination type.

Figures show a 400% increase in reports of sexism and misogyny across the board, up from 16 reports to 80, which has been amplified by a massive spike in online abuse towards female players and supporters (up from one report in 2022-23 to 46 this season).

Encouragingly, our reports per incident rate has risen for the fourth consecutive season, suggesting that fans are more inclined to report discrimination.

The significant leap in reports highlights that discrimination is still a serious issue within the game, although the record figures could also be attributed to an increased awareness of reporting procedures and fans becoming less tolerant of discriminatory behaviour.

Faith-based discrimination fell slightly this season, due to an 29.5% drop in the number of reports received of an antisemitic nature, although Islamophobia (up by 300%) and sectarian chanting in the professional game (15.8%) were both up.

Discrimination reports in the professional game rose by 27.4% to 484, which represents those received from the Premier League, English Football League and National League, domestic cups, European and international competition, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship.

Within the professional game, there was a noticeable rise in reports of disability-based abuse, with nearly three times the number of reports of this nature compared to the 2021-22 season (23 reports, up from eight last season).

Meanwhile, we have also seen a 55.1% rise in reports from Grassroots/Non-League football this season compared to 2021-22 (242 reports, up from 156).

Racism continued to account for over half of Grassroots reports (50.8%), while 43.4% of overall Grassroots incidents received were from Under-18s or younger age group games (105 out of 242). Research suggests these numbers are the tip of the iceberg with many incidents still not reported. 

Social media abuse comprised a much larger proportion of overall reports this season compared to previous years, making up 28% of all reports received – up from 12.1% last year.

Research undertaken by Signify into online abuse in the Premier League and WSL from Jan-Feb 2023, found that while on-pitch incidents triggered bouts of online abuse, off-pitch events such as the transfer window, players’ personal relationships, and their previous club allegiances created key flashpoints.

The findings commissioned also identified peaks of homophobic and misogynistic abuse targeting several high-profile WSL players.

Kick It Out CEO, Tony Burnett, said: “The significant increase in reports across the game is alarming and strengthens our resolve to tackle discrimination in all areas of football.  Behind each of these statistics, is somebody who has sadly experienced discrimination, and supporting the victims of abuse remains Kick It Out’s utmost priority.

“While we continue to work tirelessly to Kick It Out, we call upon fans, clubs, leagues and governing bodies to help us with this cause, and we are encouraged that the number of reports per incident continues to increase, suggesting that people are becoming less tolerant of discriminatory behaviour and more likely to report abuse when they see it.

“Our figures provide a snapshot of what is happening across the game, but we still don’t know the full picture because clubs, leagues and governing bodies aren’t currently mandated to share their reporting data.

“This underscores why football urgently needs a centralised reporting mechanism to collate and monitor reports. Only once that happens can we understand the full extent of the problem within football and tackle it with the full force of the sport.”

Our rebranded website was the most popular means of reporting abuse, and we urge anyone who experiences or witnesses abuse to contact them through the website, app or via email.