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Football officers and partners working to ‘kick out’ hate speech

Officers and partners in the community are stepping up our efforts to ‘kick out’ hate speech ahead of the Qatar World Cup.

On Tuesday (11 October), Alan Bush, from Kick It Out, chaired a presentation at the force’s HQ in Stafford - with partners from Port Vale, Burton Albion, Hednesford Town, Stoke City and others in attendance.

It comes as part of the organisation’s fan education programme, which delivers one-to-one sessions with people who have admitted to abusing others at football matches and on social media.

These individuals are sometimes offered the chance to speak to the person they abused during the sessions and are provided with specialist education to increase the awareness of discrimination in football.

PC Rich Lymer, who became the force’s dedicated Football Hate Crime Officer in July, hopes to continue working with the organisation to help put a stop to discrimination as we draw nearer to kick off in Qatar.

He said: “Part of my work as the dedicated Football Hate Crime Officer involves speaking to members of the footballing community in Staffordshire and making sure they know the weight of their own actions – whether this is online or at the side of a pitch on a matchday.

“Football is a sport that unites millions and we want to make sure this continues.”

The programme is delivered to all ages and backgrounds and is designed to be educational and reflective for both victims and perpetrators. It makes it clear that offences can happen online, in a stadium or at a grass-roots game on a Sunday morning.

The event was delivered as part of the force’s ongoing commitment to tackle hate crime in the county, with representatives from the Staffordshire FA, Burton Albion Community Trust, young offending team and the force’s own football unit.

PC Lymer said: “Discriminatory behaviour of any kind should not be tolerated.

“The consequences of this behaviour - whether that be online or from the side of a pitch, are severe and may lead to those responsible serving time in prison and receiving football banning orders.

“These actions can change the lives of everyone involved and we all have a duty to protect the integrity of our sport and make sure it keeps its label as ‘the beautiful game’.”

“As we approach the Qatar World Cup, we will be continuing our partnership working to ensure that hate crime is left out of this year’s tournament.

“I can’t promise that England will pull-off another 66’ triumph, but I can promise that we will continue to tackle discrimination, both on and off the pitch.”

For more information on hate crime and how to report it, visit: Hate crime | Staffordshire Police

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