Walk into a supermarket, get on a train, go to work almost anywhere in the country and you’ll see a black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME). However when we go the game on a Saturday, we rarely see the same amount and I think to myself, why?
Around 15% of the UK population is BAME, however only 2% of supporters who regularly attend matches are BAME.
I’m a British-Asian who has been following Brighton and Hove Albion since I was 5. I’ve followed the Albion to all corners of the country and not once seen any hint of racial tension or any gestures made to incite racial hate. However others that I know myself have not been so fortunate.
In the city of Leicester the white British community is now the minority. However if you go the King Power Stadium on a Saturday afternoon then you’ll see a different side to Leicester. One could argue that those who regularly attend Leicester games come from all over the county of Leicestershire and beyond, areas which don’t have as many BAME people living there. Despite taking this into consideration though the lack BAME supporters is not only a worry for organisations such as kick it out but also for the clubs themselves. Former Aston Villa marketing executive Ravinder Masih said in 2009:
“It’s quite difficult to get the local community involved, purely because of what it was like in the 1970s and 80s with hooliganism.
“People remember that and associate football with hooliganism but slowly we’re changing that perception by getting people into the family stand where they can experience the game in a safe and secure environment.”
The population of the UK is made up from a number of different cultures, with around 15% of whom are BAME. Yet only 2% of football supporters who regularly attend matches are BAME. Many say it’s a lack of integration from these communities. Studies in cities and towns such as Birmingham, Leicester, Luton, Bradford, Huddersfield, Blackburn, Oldham, Burnley, Preston, and Wolverhampton say that Asians, especially teenagers prefer to support a Premier League such as Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea etc. From this alone one could argue that it’s a lack of racial integration from the BAME communities, however I personally believe it goes further than that.
In the most recent study by the Premier League they said that, ‘Like most fans, BAME groups are limited in the number of matches they can attend by costs or time constraints; fewer than one-in-ten say they don’t attend because of concerns about racism’. The concerns about racism caught my eye in this report as in 2015 a survey from Kick it out said that despite a small number of racist abuse at football, more people were now reporting racism. As mentioned earlier I personally have never experienced any problems at matches home or away however I do know people who have been spat on and attacked.
However times have changed and despite fears from many members of the BAME communities on racism in football all signs suggest that maybe it is a lack of integration and not feeling a part of the working class communities that football clubs attract that is what is putting off BAME supporters from regularly attending matches.
I personally believe that BAME communities don’t feel the same emotions for the local teams as what the white working class do and that more schemes and initiatives need to be done to attract more BAME supporters.
Let us know your experiences and what clubs can do to attract more BAME in the comments below.