More than two-thirds of football fans in Britain think racism is a problem in the sport

49% of cricket fans say there is a problem with racism in cricket while just 31% of rugby union fans say there is a problem with racism in rugby union

The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs
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New polling by Ipsos, taken April 8-11th this year, explores public attitudes to racism in sport. Both the general public and fans of football, rugby union and cricket were asked their views about the significance of racism as a problem in each sport and whether enough was being done to tackle it. 46% of Britons describe themselves as fans of football, 26% of rugby union and 20% of cricket.

Racism and football

Almost two-thirds of the general public (64%) consider racism to be a problem in professional football, including 3 in 10 (29%) who say it is a very big problem, rising to 37% amongst ethnic minority Britons. Only 24% say it is not a big problem/not a problem at all. These figures remain relatively stable among those who say they are fans of the sport, 68% say it is a problem while 29% say it is not. 

Is there a problem with racism in football, cricket and rugby?

Despite widespread coverage in the last year concerning racism allegations within English cricket, less than half of people in Britain (38%) say there is a problem there (rising to 45% amongst ethnic minority Britons). Overall, the same proportion (38%) say there is not. However, this may reflect that the public follow the sport less closely than football as 24% say they don’t know when asked about racism in professional cricket (compared to 12% when asked about football). Meanwhile, among fans of cricket, half (49%) say there is a problem with racism in the sport and 48% say there is not. 

For rugby union, around a quarter of the public overall (27%) say there is a problem with racism in the professional game, rising to 37% amongst ethnic minority Britons, while almost half say there is not (46%). However, levels of don’t knows are similar to that for cricket (27%).  Amongst rugby union fans, 31% say there is a problem with racism in the professional game and 63% say there is not.

Is enough being done to tackle racism in sport?

Only a quarter of Britons (24%) believe the right amount is being done to tackle racism in professional football, 15% say too much is being done and 44% say not enough is being done 17% don’t know. Among fans of the sport, 43% want to see more done to tackle the issue while 3 in 10 (30%) say enough is already being done and 21% think too much has been done. 5% don’t know.

Is enough being done to tackle racism in professional football, cricket and rugby union?

Just over a third (36%) of Britons in general say the right amount is being done to tackle racism in rugby union, this increases to half of those who are fans of the sport (51%). One in 10 (10%) of all Britons say efforts have gone too far and 22% say they haven’t gone far enough. A third don’t know (33%), reflecting the relative lack of public familiarity with the sport compared to football. Among rugby union fans, 17% say efforts have gone too far while 22% want to see more done and 10% indicate they don’t know.

For professional cricket, 13% of the public say efforts to tackle racism have gone too far while 3 in 10 (29%) say the right amount is being done and the same proportion say more needs to happen to fight racism in the professional game (29%). 30% of the public say they don’t know. Among cricket fans, 4 in 10 (41%) say the right amount is being done but a third (32%) say efforts have not gone far enough. Around a quarter (24%) believe they have gone too far. 4% don’t know.

Keiran Pedley, Director of Research at Ipsos, said:

These figures show that football fans believe that racism is a significant problem for the sport, with large numbers saying more should be done to tackle it. A smaller, but significant, number of cricket fans say the same about cricket. Meanwhile, whilst fans of rugby union are the least likely to see an issue in their sport, this does not of course mean there isn’t one.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos UK interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,051 adults aged 16-75 in Great Britain. 921 of the interviews were held with respondents who described themselves as football fans, 519 described themselves as rugby union fans and 447 described themselves as cricket fans. Interviews took place on the online Omnibus using the Ipsos.Digital platform between the 8th and 11th April 2022. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
     
The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs

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