THE Alliance Party has welcomed efforts by the Irish Football Association to offer anti-racism training to players, coaches and referees in Northern Ireland.
Alliance Sports Spokesperson, Castlereagh Councillor Michael Long, stated:
“Just last month a Blackburn Rovers fan was fined £1,000 and banned from football grounds for five years for racially abusing Birmingham City player Dwight Yorke.
“And events in Madrid recently demonstrate that there are fans out there who are still prepared to abuse footballers on the basis of race.
“It is essential that local players, coaches, stadium stewards, staff and referees know how to handle such situations, and actively promote anti-racism throughout the league.
“The IFA community relations office has led the way in changing attitudes about sectarianism and racism in football, and as a supporter I warmly welcome their efforts to promote football for all.
“However, it would be useful if the Football Offences Act were introduced to Northern Ireland. This would ensure that where breaches of the IFA code of conduct occur in the terraces, that effective action could be taken.
“The new law is sending out a clear signal in GB that bigotry and violence in football will not be tolerated.”