Clarke: Abuse should be easier to report
Football League chairman Greg Clarke has admitted something in the game may be 'terribly wrong' if black players feel unable to report racist abuse.
Clarke was speaking after a Sky Sports News programme showed Millwall fans persistently subjecting Leeds striker El-Hadji Diouf to racial abuse at the Den on November 18. Footage appeared to show the Senegal international alerting the referee, Mark Halsey, and making stewards aware of his allegations but Millwall insisted no complaint of racist abuse was made by the player.
Clarke, who was at the match in question, told Sky Sports News: "To have our players subjected to such vile and filthy abuse deserves nothing more than the culprits being arrested and facing the full weight of the law."
He added: "There's two issues, one is we have to continue to work with the clubs on our anti-racism programmes which are agreed with the FA. Secondly is the reticence of black players to come forward and feel comfortable in supporting it.
"If we've created an environment that doesn't support black players in confronting this issue we've done something terribly wrong. We've got to wrap ourselves around our black players and give them our support to report such episodes and then deal with such episodes extremely severely."
Clarke has met Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley and Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor for talks over players who suffer abuse but do not make an official complaint.
He added: "We need to create a culture in football that rather than making the person who points out the problem the villain, they get the support they deserve in being able to point it out. We need to support the victim."
Clarke said he was aware of lots of shouting and chanting directed at Diouf during the match but did not hear any co-ordinated racist chanting.
"That doesn't mean there was no individual racist abuse," he added. "We have to use every tool in our armour, be it CCTV, steward and player statements, to hunt down every racist at every football ground and make sure they never get in again."
Clarke added that Millwall had worked very hard to tackle a past reputation for a racist element among their fans. He said: "The club has worked very hard, and spent a lot of money, reaching out to people to improve them. Persecuting the club rather than the perpetrators is a wrong answer."
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