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Football referee calls for 'more to be done' to help combat racism

A black football referee who works across Avon and Somerset thinks racism at grassroots level is inspired by events higher up, and that governing bodies should 'do more' to help combat the issue.

Irvine Campbell, a referee in Avon and Somerset and also Chair of SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality), has experienced the issue first hand. 

He was the first referee in the country to successfully take a player to court for racial abuse towards a match official, and has also taken a football club to a tribunal for racism towards himself and a player. 

''I think a lot of times, the issues can cascade down to grassroots from higher levels. At times it can be quiet, but when you hear and see the abuse coming from the higher levels, then it seems that grassroots picks up from that, and it's a copycat situation really''. 

''The real power to do something about this are the people at the top; the FA, UEFA, the Managers and also the Law. If they made an example of these people, if they did something quite severe which made clubs stand up and take notice, and were really punished, then something would be done, we could stamp it out, but at the moment it's all just lip service''

''The paltry fines which have been dished out to sides like Bulgaria for offences, it's nothing. Do something positive that makes a stand, and then I think we'll see a difference in behaviour''. 

Recent incidents in the South West include the Yeovil Town match against Haringey Borough being abandoned last month due to reports of racist abuse, and Bristol City launching an investigation into some of their fans for similar incidents that were reported in the away end during their game against Luton Town. 

Irvine also told us how the policy in which referees work under in relation to racial incidents can also cause further issues, and doesn't always allow them to resolve the problems. 

Press play below to hear him talk about the policy issues and his experiences.

If you want to report a hate crime, please click here. 

To find a list of support organisations for those affected by hate crimes, click here. 

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