Report says racism systemic in England amid football abuse row

Racism is systemic in England and legislation, institutional practices and customs continue to harm minority ethnic groups, according to research out today.

England manager Gareth Southgate talks to players during the Euro 2020 final against Italy (Mike Egerton/PA)
England manager Gareth Southgate talks to players during the Euro 2020 final against Italy (Mike Egerton/PA)

The report from the Runnymede Trust comes as figures from across public life have condemned the racist abuse aimed at black football players on the England team following their defeat on penalties in the Euro 2020 final against Italy at the weekend.

Members of the Government have been accused of making “dog whistle” comments after England star Tyrone Mings said the Home Secretary Priti Patel had “stoked the fire” of racism in the past.

And it is also against a backdrop in Yorkshire of a toxic by-election campaign in Batley and Spen, in which issues of race and equality were used to fan local disputes by some candidates.

The report says the UK Government is in breach of its human rights obligations under a key UN treaty aimed at eradicating racial discrimination. It suggests that minority ethnic groups face sustained disparities across health, the criminal justice system, education, employment, immigration and politics.

The authors write that they believe the Government’s new approach to equalities will fail to improve these outcomes “and may in fact worsen them”.

It found the Government is in breach of numerous articles of the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Following the abuse of England players including Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka, Baroness Jones, a Green Party peer, asked in Parliament on Tuesday: “Surely the Government can see that when senior politicians like our Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Home Office make dog whistle comments and do not slap down racism, then the Cabinet itself, the Government itself, has a problem?”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Boris Johnson would urge social media firms to take tougher action over racism when he met with them on Tuesday after the football abuse which he described as being “from the dark spaces of the internet”.

Labour called the report “damning” and said it is one that highlights “disadvantage and inequality for black, Asian and ethnic minority people is worsening after over a decade of Conservative rule.”

Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities added: ““While paying lip service to anti-racism this week, this Conservative government are in clear breach of their international human rights obligations. They have failed to submit their mandatory progress report, instead wasting time and resources on a shoddy and offensive race report which has been firmly rejected.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The Runnymede Trust’s shadow report contains many errors and is too simplistic in saying that structural or systemic racism is driving all the disparities outlined in their report.

“We would urge them to work with the government and carefully consider the recommendations in the report from the Commission on Race and Ethic Disparities. The government will be providing a response to these recommendations which will act as our action plan for tackling inequality.”