It seems that racism has become one of the main talking points in football over the past year.

It could be said that in a country where racism appears to be much less of a problem than in the past, the level of issues of accusations of abuse seem alarmingly significant.

So, do these incidents give evidence that racism is becoming a serious issue in football again?

Of course, racism used to be a massive problem in English football, with players like John Barnes facing huge amounts of racial abuse at matches. But with recent incidents, like reports of racist chanting at some games, is there a danger that racism in football could get worse?

It was recently revealed that during the 2011/12 season, 144 cases of misconduct happened, with racism as an aggravating factor. Many coaches, players and people who campaign against racism seem to believe the problem is worse than it appears. Colin King, who is from the Black and Asian Coaches Association told 5 Live Investigates that some of  the 600 members in his organisation report three cases of racial abuse a week.

I have done research on chanting in the stands, which involved racism, and it seemed to bring up evidence that the problem still exists. One fan representative described how fans at a match between Chelsea and Tottenham were chanting anti-Semitic insults, with references to the Holocaust.

Stories about racism in football seem to be becoming more common, including reports of racist chanting in the stands.

One particularly worrying aspect is that many problems with racism seem to exist at grassroots level. John Mann, a Labour MP, who leads the taskforce surrounding football racism, also told 5 Live Investigates that “very little progress” has taken place in dealing with the issue at grassroots level. A survey by an organisation called Football Website found 29% of 2,800 members witnessed a form of racism when at a football match at grassroots level.

Additionally, in October an under-15s team called Leicester Nirvana FC claimed fans of a club called Blaby and Whetstone Boys Club FC made racist insults, offensive gestures, violent threats and monkey noises at a game. Could it be said that if people are behaving like this at football matches for youngsters, that it could encourage young people to copy this behaviour in later life, which could make problems worse in the future?

So, it seems that worrying signs exist that racism could be returning to football. What can be done to stop racism from potentially getting as bad as it was in the past or getting worse?

Is it partly the responsibility of players to behave better towards each other? The cases of Luis Suárez and John Terry seemed to spark a new wave of stories of racism. But, could it be said their behaviour can influence fans? For example, after the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand story came out, chants of ‘you know what you are” were heard from Chelsea fans.

While I personally believe that the idea of giving classes on English culture for foreign footballers could be seen as picking on foreign footballers when English footballers could also be racist, it seems that the FA could do more to deal with racism. Lord Herman Ouseley is quitting as Chairman of Kick It Out – Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football, criticising the FA’s handling of racism cases, and many players boycotted the campaign. Could it also be said that clubs should handle racism better too? For example, punishing players more if they are involved in racism cases? Should they do more to stop racist spectators?

One idea is to stop matches if racism becomes evident during games.

While it is questionable whether racism can become as bad as it used to be, cases of racism in football do seem to be increasing in a worrying manner. Should more be done now to stop further problems arising?

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