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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 18:18 GMT

Sport: Football

Anti-racism drive increased

There is still a way to go to kick racism out of football

Sports Minister Tony Banks has stepped up his drive to kick racism out of football.

He has written to all 92 chairmen of Premier and Nationwide League clubs to remind them that although clubs and players have responded well, "there is no room for complacency".

And he said he hopes a Bill to make it an offence for an individual to chant racist abuse will be made law in time for the new season.

Video launch

Mr Banks revealed the latest steps in his anti-racism campaign at the launch of a new video Show Racism the Red Card at Leicester City's Filbert Street ground on Monday.

[ image: Tony Banks: 'Racism has no place in football']
Tony Banks: 'Racism has no place in football'
He said: "Racism has no place in football. The Football Task Force report into racism in the game gave responsibilities to clubs, individuals and the government.

"Parliament is now considering a Bill to make it an offence for an individual to chant racist abuse.

"It is already an offence for groups to do so and the government wants to extend that to cover isolated incidents as well.

"I am hopeful it will be ready for the start of the new season."

Mr Banks said that football could be a "major force for good in society", and that children watched and listened to players closely.

'Message of tolerance'

He said: "There is no more powerful vehicle to take a message of tolerance and respect to a young audience."

He added that the game was setting a positive example by taking firm action to tackle racism, but that the process was not complete.

{ Image 4} In his letter to club chairmen, the sports minister reminded them that the Task Force's report recommended that clubs should make a clear announcement before games and at half-time about tackling racism.

Clubs were also urged to set up a confidential phone line for supporters to make complaints about incidents of racist abuse, and to train stewards to identify and deal appropriately with such incidents.

He said in the letter: "There is much to be proud of but no room for complacency. A good start has been made on implementing these recommendations and I would like to thank you for all that your club has done to help."

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