Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari fears the issue of racism “is definitely getting worse” in Britain following an incident at Saturday’s Manchester derby, which has led to an arrest.
On Sunday, Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 41-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody over an incident at the Etihad Stadium.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed two of his Manchester United players were targeted in their 2-1 win over City, when television footage appeared to show a supporter making a racist gesture in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.
The incident came almost a year to the day since City striker Raheem Sterling was subjected to “racially abusive language” by a Chelsea supporter, who was later banned for life.
A League Two game between Forest Green Rovers and Scunthorpe United was also temporarily halted on Saturday following a report of alleged racist abuse, and Bhandari is concerned by the growing number of incidents across the game in Britain.
“I think the problem is definitely getting worse here and it has been over the last three years,” he told Sky Sports News.
“We’re nowhere near where we were 30, 40 years ago but there’s definitely been an upward spike over the last two, three years.
“But by the same token it doesn’t help us if we create these false oppositions; we’re not [like] Bulgaria.”
We have been inundated with reports of alleged racist abuse from a number of individuals during this evenings Manchester Derby.
We will be contacting both clubs to offer our support and hope swift action is taken to identify the offenders.
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) December 7, 2019
In October, UEFA ordered Bulgaria to play a competitive home game behind closed doors after their Euro 2020 qualifier against England was halted twice due to racist chanting from the stands.
“We should not be complacent, we should focus on what’s happening in our own country,” Bhandari added.
“There has definitely been a rise over the last two or three years and we need to get a handle on that and collaborate much more effectively across football to really try and stamp this out.”
City promised any individual found guilty of making racial gestures would be banned for life.
The Premier League also issued its own statement on Sunday saying it would support any action taken by their 20 clubs.
“The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form,” the statement read.
“If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.
“We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable.”
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