Duke of Cambridge ‘fed up’ with ‘outrageous’ racism in football as he vows to ‘do something about it

Duke of Cambridge ‘fed up’ with ‘outrageous’ racism in football as he vows to ‘do something about it


 The Duke of Cambridge, president of the FA, has condemned the “outrageous” racism in modern football, saying he is “fed up” with the damage is it doing to players and fans  The Duke, a football fan whose ongoing Heads Up campaign is aimed at improving mental health, said he was determined to “do something” about the scourge of racism affecting the game    Saying it previously felt like the issue was being brought under control, he spoke of his disappointment at recent shocking accounts of explicit abuse and called for immediate change  During a visit to Hendon Football Club, which is consider a beacon of good practice for its project to help those with mental health issues, he raised the issue of racism directly with coaches  Asking how they had noticed racism was playing into the mental health issues of players at all levels of the game, he suggested it was still a challenge for high profile players to discuss the abuse they were subjected to    “It’s quite hard,” he said. “People are now talking a little bit about mental health issues but I imagine talking about racism is still quite a difficult subject, especially when it’s happening in such a public fashion with Premier League matches or Champions League ”  Told it was an issue that had been talked about for “too long”, he agreed: “We’ve got to do something about it I’m fed up with it. I’m so bored of it.”  Saying it “kind of felt like it was getting under control here, it got better”, with players feeling more confident in calling out offensive behaviour, he admitted an apparent resurgence in abuse had led him to fear “we’re back there”  Citing recent abuse suffered by players Tammy Abraham and Romelu Lukaku, he said: “It’s outrageous what’s happening, it really is ”  High profile football players are increasingly speaking out about the racism they face online, particularly on social media, and on the pitch, describing extreme offensive language and monkey chants and saying current punishments are not enough to deter culprits  The Duke said Heads Up, his current campaign which will run through the season, is planning to do more to raise the profile of the issue and put pressure to bring about a culture change  “Heads Up is about mental health but we are going to start doing stuff on racism as well because it is affecting mental health,” he said  “Not just the players but also fans.”  Darren Smith, a programme leaders for football and coaching management at UCFC Wembley who discussed the issue with the Duke, said it was important for racism to be put on the agenda  “We’re trying to help people feel part of the community through football, but there’s still a barrier there,” he said “It does have an effect on mental health.”  Speaking of a lack of accountability on social media, he said: “People are using different platforms to express it and think they can get away with it ”  Jimmy Gray, manager of Hendon FC, said: “Football is so high profile it needs to take a zero tolerance stand It’s sad that it has to be on the agenda, but it has to be.”  The Duke was visiting Hendon FC to learn more about the club’s mental health projects, including an outreach programme for local youngsters with mental health issues to attend training    As a match was played behind him, he spoke to young players whose lives have been improved by joining training and making friends at the club    In an hour-long visit, he asked them whether it was a “big deal” for them to talk about their mental well-being, and praised them for having the confidence and passion to now help others  “Well done for the work you do,” he told Richard Hay, coach and support worker. “It’s a lot of responsibility and pressure, but you’re the linch pin of the community ”  It is the latest stage of the FA’s Heads Up campaign, which will run all season and is intended to encourage fans and players to feel comfortable talking about their mental health    The visit coincides with the launch of The FA’s new guidance for grassroots coaches and managers, distributed to FA affiliated adult clubs    The leaflet includes advice on how to spot mental health issues in players and how best to help them    A spokesman said the campaign would “use the influence and popularity of football to show the nation that mental health is just as important as physical health    “It will support the important work which is already taking place across the UK to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and will strive to raise awareness, spark conversation  and signpost support for those in need ”  The Heads Up campaign is supported by England manager Gareth Southgate and footballers including Peter Crouch, Thierry Henry, Danny Rose and Jermaine Jenas, and will culminate during the Emirates FA Cup Final  on 23rd May, 2020

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