Nicky Harley, The National, January 13, 2022
The UK is bringing in new legislation to ban online racist trolls from attending football stadiums for up to 10 years.
It comes after a number of England players were subjected to racism following the Euro 2020 final.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged to crackdown on racist abuse following the incidents, in which Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were targeted.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to expand the nation’s existing football banning orders, which can currently be imposed on people convicted of violence, disorder and racist or homophobic chanting, to cover online hate offences.
The new law is expected to take the form of an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
“Last summer we saw the beautiful game marred by disgraceful racism from online trolls, who hid behind their keyboards and abused our footballers,” Ms Patel said.
“Racism is unacceptable and for too long football has been marred by this shameful prejudice.
“Those responsible for appalling racist abuse online must be punished. The changes to the law I am announcing will make sure they are banned from attending football matches.”
Football banning orders bar the individual from going to regulated football matches for up to 10 years.
There are currently more than 1,300 football banning orders in force across England and Wales.
They are issued either following a conviction for a football-related offence or following a complaint by the police, British Transport Police or the Crown Prosecution Service.
These agencies can make an application to the court to make an order in respect of a person who has at any time caused or contributed to football-related violence or disorder whether in the UK or elsewhere.
Breach of a football banning order is a criminal offence and is punishable by a maximum sentence of six months in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
“Racist abuse flooding footballers’ social media feeds all hours of the day has a profound impact on everyone involved in the game and it has to end,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
“We are tackling this abhorrent behaviour in all forms. As well as banning racists from games, we are introducing ground-breaking new laws to stamp out abuse online and make sure tech firms tackle the hate on their sites.”
Britain’s Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association, called the racist abuse of footballers “despicable” after the Professional Footballers’ Association accused social media companies of being unwilling to clamp down on racist posts.
Last year Instagram announced new measures to tackle online abuse after the latest spate of racist attacks on footballers.