Home Office figures on the reporting of hate crimes show Aston Villa’s approach is working, according to chief executive Christian Purslow.
Villa fans were reported for alleged hate crimes 13 times during the 2019-20 season, according to Home Office data obtained by the PA news agency under a Freedom of Information request – more than any other club.
They were reported for seven incidents related to race, five related to sexual orientation and one associated to religion.
Purslow said in a statement on avfc.co.uk: “I firmly believe that to fix serious problems properly you have to face up to them, measure them and call them out. Reporting all instances of hate crime is the best way to root it out and be able to show zero tolerance to perpetrators.
“We have encouraged all members of the Aston Villa family, fans and employees alike, to report any instances whether in our stadium or on social media channels to provide the best possible help for the authorities.
“This summer the collaboration between the club and West Midlands Police’s Football Unit resulted in the arrest of a perpetrator within hours of some deeply offensive posts on social media.
“Our club’s commitment to promoting the reporting of all instances of hate crime will not cease and this report shows it is working. This work will go on until the stain of hate crime is removed from any link whatsoever to our great national sport and our proud club.”
Three clubs’ fans – Wolves, Leeds and Tottenham – were the subject of 10 reports each, while Chelsea fans were reported nine times.
The Home Office announced two months ago that there had been 319 incidents of hate crime reported at 287 of the 2,663 matches in England and Wales in the 2019-20 season.
The reports came to the UK Football Policing Unit from either the Football Association or anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.
The FOI request offers some insight as to when and where the reports were made, although it does not clarify whether clubs reported their own fans on any or every occasion.
All 10 of the reports assigned to Wolves related to race, while eight of those attributed to Leeds were also racist in nature, with two related to sexual orientation.
Six of Spurs’ reports were for racism-related offences, one related to religion and three to sexual orientation.
Chelsea’s nine reports were made up of three for racism, four for religion and two for sexual orientation.
A group of eight clubs were the subject of seven reports each, according to the data. They were Manchester City, Sheffield United, Everton, Millwall, Leicester, Burnley, Portsmouth and Tranmere.
A number of the reports could not definitively be assigned to a club, so do not feature in the club-by-club data.
The FOI request also found that just four reports of hate crime were made related to matches played when the professional game resumed in June and July, even though online incidents were included in the data for the first time.
One of the four matches where a report was made was the Manchester City v Burnley match on June 22, when the Home Office data shows a Burnley supporter was reported over an incident related to race.
This was the match where a plane was flown over the Etihad Stadium just before kick-off with a banner displaying the words ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’.
The incident happened as players on the pitch were taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.