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Sunday, March 29, 1998 Published at 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK

Sport: Football

Red card for racists
image: [ Arsenal's Ian Wright has accused opponents of racism ]
Arsenal's Ian Wright has accused opponents of racism

Soccer players and club managers could be sacked for being racist under proposals being unveiled by the government's independent Football Task Force.

David Mellor: 'Players have a job as role models.' (1'01')
In its first report since formation, the task force is also recommending that referees send off any player making racist comments on the pitch.

The report, due to be published on Monday, also calls on the government to target racially abusive spectators.

The task force, chaired by Chelsea fan, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter and former Tory minister David Mellor, said: "What we are trying to do is provide a comprehensive blueprint to deal with racism in the game."

[ image: Mellor: prejudice most prevalent at amateur matches]
Mellor: prejudice most prevalent at amateur matches
The task force wants the Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers' Association to push for players' and managers' contracts to include anti-racism pledges.

It wants offenders punished with "severe sanctions" such as fines or dismissal.

The recommendations also include local councils' exercising powers to ban from council-owned playing facilities football clubs with a record of involvement in racist incidents.

At all professional clubs and Vauxhall Conference clubs, ground regulations should be amended to make racist abuse an offence separate from the use of foul-language, the report says.

It also proposes that clubs set up confidential freephone hotlines to enable supporters to report incidents of racist abuse.

Football stewards should receive special, mandatory training to ensure they are equipped to deal with incidents of racism.

[ image: The report says many non-whites are uncomfortable at matches]
The report says many non-whites are uncomfortable at matches
The task force also urges action to correct anomalies which mean, for example, that there are no top-flight Asian professional footballers even though the Asian community makes up 3.5% of Britain's population.

Another anomaly is the fact that non-whites make up 7.3% of the population in England but just 1% of Premier League crowds.

The task force warns that it is to the game's detriment that these imbalances exist. Quality players are being discouraged and potential spectators lost.

"As long as black and Asian fans do not have confidence that they can attend matches and be treated with respect, clubs will continue to miss out on a big market," the report concludes.

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