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UK could ban people who racially abuse players online for 10 years


People found guilty of online racist abuse connected to football could be banned from attending games in England and Wales for up to 10 years, home secretary Priti Patel said.


Under new laws, Football Banning Orders, which can be imposed to stop violence, disorder and racist or homophobic chanting at regulated games, will be extended to include online hate offences.


Individuals could be barred from attending matches for a minimum of three and a maximum of 10 years.


The change comes following prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to take action in July after some of England’s black players suffered online racist abuse following the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout defeat.


Home secretary Patel is due to bring forward the legislation early in the new year. The law is set to take the form of an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.


Exact details of how social media companies will work with clubs are as yet unclear. Furthermore, anonymous users could lead to some issues with regards to implementing the new legislation.


“This summer we saw the beautiful game marred by disgraceful racism from online trolls, who hid behind their keyboards and abused our footballers,” said Patel.


“Racism is unacceptable and for too long football has been marred by this shameful prejudice.


“Those responsible for appalling racist abuse online must be punished. The changes to the law I am announcing will make sure they are banned from attending football matches.”


There are 1,359 football banning orders in force across England and Wales as of August 1, according to government statistics. These orders bar individuals from attending regulated football matches for between three and 10 years.


Culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, said: “Racist abuse flooding footballers’ social media feeds all hours of the day has a profound impact on everyone involved in the game and it has to end.


“We are tackling this abhorrent behaviour in all forms. As well as banning racists from games, we are introducing ground-breaking new laws to stamp out abuse online and make sure tech firms tackle the hate on their sites.”


Shadow sports minister Lord Bassam, who had a role to play in the new policy, said: “I am very happy that the Government is finally taking action against this sort of disgusting abuse online. But it is not before time as we proposed adding this to the Policing Bill over a month ago.


“The banning order regime should also be extended to other sports.”

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