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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 06:37 GMT 07:37 UK
Amateur football racists targeted
Millwall FC
Professionals Millwall FC are leading the way in anti-racism campaign
The police and the Football Association have launched a new campaign to kick out racist abuse in amateur football.

Previous high-publicity efforts have been aimed at players and fans in the professional game.

But footballers in schools and local league games are being warned that racist behaviour will also be treated seriously by the police.

Officers will investigate racist abuse on the pitch as a possible hate crime to discourage those responsible.

BBC crime correspondent Neil Bennett says although there is anecdotal evidence racist incidents happen at the grassroots level in football, very few are reported.

It is unacceptable for any players at any level of sport to have to suffer this kind of abuse
Det Chief Supt Adrian Maybanks

During the pilot scheme in south east London, near the ground of Millwall, 3,000 posters are being put up at the First Division club.

Around 10,000 cards will also be handed out to the thousands of players and spectators who turn out every weekend for matches between schools, colleges and local amateur teams.

The message on them will read that racist abuse on the pitch is unacceptable, illegal and will be acted upon.

The FA says if the pilot is successful, the project will be rolled out to other areas.

"The FA is proud to be working with the Met Police and Millwall FC on this Report Racism programme," said Lucy Faulkner, the FA's Football For All manager.

Racism hotline

Detective chief superintendent Adrian Maybanks said: "I recognize the impact that racist comments can have on people's lives.

"It is unacceptable for any players at any level of sport to have to suffer this kind of abuse. We need you to tell us what is going on. "

Victims are being urged to report incidents to an FA hotline: 0800 085 0508.

The game's governing body already has the power to double any punishment for a disciplinary offence if it is aggravated by racism.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Peter Lane
"Leicester City are praised as one of the few clubs making real efforts to combat racism"


Detective chief superintendent Adrian Maybanks
"We want to support the FA in stamping out racism in football"



SEE ALSO:
Fans arrested over racial chants
10 Nov 03  |  England
Youth 'key' to tackling racism
27 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Shame of racist fans
18 Aug 03  |  West Yorkshire


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