(CNN) — Anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out said it received a record number of reports of discriminatory behavior during the 2022/23 soccer season.
The 1,007 reports represent a 65.1% increase compared to the previous year and include discriminatory incidents from the professional game, social media and grassroots soccer.
Meanwhile, discrimination reports in the professional game – including from the Premier League, English Football League, domestic cups, European and international competitions, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship – rose by 27.4% to 484, the organization added.
Kick It Out was originally set up in 1993 as an anti-racism body in the sport, before expanding its remit to include all forms of discrimination in 1997. In the data released on Wednesday, Kick It Out revealed racism accounted for 49.3% of all reports in the period.
The reporting period saw a 400% increase in sexist and misogynist reports from 16 to 80, which the organization said was “amplified by a massive spike in online abuse towards female players and supporters.”
Islamophobic reporting increased by 300% – though on the whole, there was a slight decrease in reports of faith-based discrimination.
Social media abuse rose by 279% compared to the previous season and made up 28% or total reporting – a 15.9% increase compared to 2021/22.
At the grassroots level, 43.4% of reports came from games involving under-18s or younger – with racism representing over half of that reporting.
A spokesperson for the Premier League said in a statement: “Discriminatory and racist abuse has no place in football or society and the Premier League is committed to combatting it in all parts of the game, however we realize there is still much to be done.
“The Premier League actively works to remove abusive online posts, and provides support to players, managers, match officials, club staff, and their families who have been affected.
An English Football Association spokesperson called the rise in discrimination and misogyny cases “very disappointing.”
“We continue to work with our partners across English football to collectively drive out this societal issue, and it’s vitally important that incidents of this nature are reported to the relevant authorities so that action can be taken against the perpetrators,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to CNN.
Kick It Out noted that the reports per discriminatory incident rate was higher for the fourth consecutive year – suggesting a growing propensity among fans to report instances of discrimination.
Tony Burnett, chief executive of Kick It Out, 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 behavior and more likely to report abuse when they see it.”
Burnett noted Kick It Out’s numbers only represent a “snapshot” of the full scale of discrimination, and reiterated soccer’s need for a centralized discrimination reporting mechanism in order to “tackle it with the full force of the sport.”
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