Implementing the Law on, and Policing of, Racial Abuse in the Age of Twitter and Social Media: An “Impossible Job?”

Implementing the Law on, and Policing of, Racial Abuse in the Age of Twitter and Social Media: An “Impossible Job?”

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London – UCL)
Medawar Building
Malet Place (off Torrington Place)
London WCI

Thursday 18th October  2012 at 6.15pm

For directions click here

This event will operate under “Chatham House Rules” – no external reporting without the permission of the speakers

Given by: Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion campaign


It is widely acknowledged that English football has made significant progress since the 1980s in combating racist behaviour in the game. However, a number of high profile cases of racial abuse on the field of play in the 2011/2012 season have graphically demonstrated that the issue remains a major problem for the game, and for society in general.

An interesting dimension of the recent controversies has been the manner in which the impact of the original incidents of abuse were then inflamed further through commentary on social media, in many cases leading to the prosecution of individuals not involved in the original incident.

There is clear body of law on the statute of book relating to racial abuse. And it is the case that in 2012 you can face charges of racism relating to commentary on social media, for example on twitter; and not just for abuse delivered from the terrace or on the field of play. This is for the very good reason that abuse is abuse, regardless of the forum in which it takes place.

However, what is significantly different about racial abuse delivered via social media is that it is particularly problematic because:

  • Of its extraordinary public reach, and therefore its amplified capacity for intimidation, abuse and coercion.
  • Of the particular challenges faced in policing social media in a context where those making abusing commentary may be able to disguise their identities.

In this roundtable discussion, a distinguished panel discuss the challenges faced by football in ensuring that the law on combating racial abuse is applied effectively in this new era of social media. Is it an impossible job? Or can the power of social media be mobilised to address the problem, not just in terms of prosecuting those that abuse, but also by educating a new generation on the necessity for Respect and Tolerance in football and in society?

The Roundtable Panel

Scott Field – Head of Media Relations for The Football Association (FA) and responsible for all corporate public relations for The Football Association, including all matters relating to all areas of governance and discipline, coach education, The FA Respect programme, England development teams and women’s football.

Paul Giannasi – A Chief Superintendent in the police, Paul leads the cross-government Hate Crime Programme in the Ministry of Justice and also manages the True Vision Hate Crime web facility on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). As such he plays a key role in the development of policing policy in relation to tackling hate crime.

John Montague – Senior District Crown Prosecutor, West Wessex; has been responsible for leading prosecutions in a number of football-related cases.

Troy Townsend – a former player and manager at non-league level, Troy has worked in youth coaching and football development in the Greater London area for twenty years. He is Kick It Out’s Mentoring and Leadership Project manager.

Nick White – a partner at leading sports law firm, Couchmans LLP.  Nick has expertise in reputation management, defamation and image rights as well as in digital and social media. His work also encompasses sporting rules and regulations, intellectual property and dispute resolution – often with an international element. Nick has advised clients such as Usain Bolt, Sir Clive Woodward and Steven Gerrard. He co-wrote the UK chapter of the book “Sports Image Rights in Europe” and is the author of the UK chapter of “Players’ Agents Worldwide: Legal Aspects”. He is also a director of the British Association of Sport and Law.”

Kick It Out

The brand name of the campaign – Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football – was established in 1993 and Kick It Out established as a body in 1997. Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.

The campaign is supported and funded by the game’s governing bodies, including founding body the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the Premier League and The Football Association.


Contact Details of Kick It Out

Danny Lynch
Media and Communications
Kick It Out
4th Floor South
1-5 Clerkenwell Road

Tel: 020 7253 0162 Fax: 020 7253 5579

For further details on the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Seminar Series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

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