Where Sunderland figure in new table of racially aggravated football arrests

Sunderland football bosses insist racist behaviour is “not welcome or tolerated at the Stadium of Light” after a minority of supposed fans featured in a new league table of shame.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 2:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 5:12 pm
Sunderland Football Club adopt a "zero tolerance" approach towards racist and offensive behaviour.

Figures unearthed through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have revealed the total number of arrests made nationwide by police at football matches for racially aggravated behaviour.

The Home Office statistics show that 10 Sunderland supporters were detained in the four seasons from 2014-15 to 2017-18.

The figure – which averages out as less than three a season – is the joint seventh highest among league clubs during this period.

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Manchester United topped the table with 27 arrests followed by Leeds United and Millwall with 15 supporters each.

Leicester City had 14, Chelsea 13 and West Ham United 11 before Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Barnsley all had 10.

Seven Newcastle United followers were arrested on similar grounds over the same four-year period.

A Sunderland spokesperson said the club operate a “zero tolerence” policy to ensure “that such behaviour is not welcome or tolerated at the Stadium of Light.”

They added: “Over 750,000 people attended games at the Stadium of Light last season, creating a vibrant and passionate atmosphere that Sunderland AFC is rightly proud of.

“In order to ensure that we continue to provide an environment that is safe and welcoming to all, we operate a zero tolerance approach to all forms of anti-social behaviour. Any individual found to be engaging in behaviour of this nature, which includes racism, is not simply ejected from our stadium, they are arrested so that the full legal process can take its course.

“We feel by taking a strong approach we are sending a clear message that such behaviour is not welcome or tolerated at the Stadium of Light.”

While there are growing concerns that racism is creeping back into football, the new figures show a fall in the number of racially aggravated arrests.

The nationwide figures – which covers arrests at England international matches - rose from 107 in 2014-15 to 114 in 2015-16. It then dropped to 94 in 2016-17 and 75 in 2017-18.

Sunderland have also urged spectators to contact staff or police inside the ground if they witness any offensive behaviour.