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Dr Mark Doidge introducing the 'For the love of the game' project at National Football Museum © Loughborough University

“For the Love of the Game”: Fans have key role in hate crime fight

The ‘For the Love of the Game’ event was held in the National Football Museum last month to present the findings of a series of workshops on hate crime in football with fans in Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds and Berlin.

This unique research project was led by Dr Mark Doidge, reader in sociology of sport at Loughborough University, alongside Dr Aarti Ratna from Solent University and Dr Fiona Skillen from Glasgow Caledonian University and was supported by our Fans for Diversity campaign.

The event included an expert panel, supporter representatives, an art exhibition and a spoken word performance.

Fans for Diversity campaign manager Nilesh Chauhan represented the FSA on the panel and was joined by Mohammed Ullah from Manchester City’s new Blue Crescent fan group – with both talking through supporter experiences of discrimination and how supporters have led the fight against hate crime in the game.

“It was a great event that delved deep into the complexities of hate crime and football and what the potential solutions are,” Nilesh said.

“The team at Loughborough University deserve huge credit for their work on this project – particularly Mark Doidge and Aarti Ratna whose guidance ensured that our discussions were engaging and productive.”

The key findings of the project showed that there are still many barriers for fans to attend matches, the researchers said.

This is particularly true for disabled fans where many clubs fail to provide suitable facilities and supportive stewards. In some cases, disabled fans are forced to sit in the home end which makes them a target of abuse and hate crime.

Other marginalised groups have begun to assert themselves in the stadium, particularly for fans from LGBT+, women’s and racialised groups. Whilst these provide a sense of community and solidarity, it can lead to them becoming a target.

Academics said Fans For Diversity and clubs have a key role in supporting these fans and helping reinforce the fact that all fans have a right to be in the stadium.

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