In response to Padiham FC being fined more for leaving the pitch after one of their players was allegedly racially abused than their opponents for the perpetrators' actions, Kick It Out says football is "sending out the wrong signal" and that "grassroots footballers are losing patience with a system that is failing to support them."
Following an incident in the North West Counties Football League match between Congleton Town and Padiham FC last October, Padiham were fined £165 for abandoning the game after then-manager Liam Smith led his players off after goalkeeper Tony Aghayere was allegedly racially abused.
Congleton Town themselves were fined just £160, with the Lancashire FA saying that a joint investigation between them and the Cheshire FA had resulted in a charge for both clubs of alleged misconduct under FA Rule E20. They also said that "written reasons will be published by The FA in due course and both clubs would have had the opportunity to appeal the outcome/s."
In response, Kick It Out have issued a statement, saying: "We are extremely concerned at the continued number of reports coming out of grassroots football, some indicating clubs have been facing fines for standing up to racist abuse received by their players.
"Football is sending out the wrong signal when bigger fines are given to the victims of abuse rather than the alleged perpetrators," it continued. "We would support The FA reviewing their rules and sanctions in cases of discrimination."
With almost two million people playing FA Affiliated Football on a regular basis, the significant number of BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) need more protection within the grassroots game according to Kick It Out, with recent high-profile incident involve England internationals drawing widespread media attention but grassroots issues going unnoticed.
“We must not ignore the amateur game," Kick It Out said. “Grassroots footballers across the country are losing patience with a system that is failing to support them. The FA and County FAs affirm they understand the devastating effect racist and discriminatory abuse has on its victims, but we call on them to demonstrate that with decisive action.
“That means better training and support for referees to respond in the correct manner when an incident happens on their pitch; swifter and more transparent disciplinary processes; robust, effective sanctions, as well as a vastly expanded use of education sessions, for those found guilty of discriminatory abuse; and ensuring victims of abuse are not sanctioned for making decisions to protect their personal well-being.
“Kick It Out will continue to support The FA and County FAs in tackling discrimination in the amateur game, whilst always remaining an advocate for the grassroots community.”