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One in 10 Games in England and Wales See Hate Crimes: Report; AFC Defends Safety Measures After Booting Out Virus-Hit Al Hilal and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Increase in hate crimes in games in England and Wales | The Asian Football Confederation defends Champions League safety after virus-hit Al Hilal gets removed from the tournament | Bundesliga fans back in stadiums with tracking of virus stats | UEFA to continue with five substitutions this season | Akinfenwa being called ‘fat water buffalo‘ deemed not racist by the English FA.
Hate crimes in English football

As many as 287 matches in the English season saw reports of hate crime related to race and could be verified, out of a total of 2,663 matches, says a report by the British Home Office.

According to data gathered by the FA, anti-discimination campaigners and the police, it has come to light that one in 10 football matches in the 2019-20 season reported occasions of hate crime in England and Wales.

As many as 287 matches in the season saw reports of hate crime related to race and could be verified, out of a total of 2,663 matches, a report by the Home Office indicated.

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The data also showed that people arrested for racial or indecent chanting went up two fold from 2018-19 to 2019-20 (from 14 to 35). This has happened even when 319 matches were called off due to the pandemic and 227 matches were played without spectators.

Mark Roberts, the deputy chief constable of South Yorkshire police, called the data regarding hate crime data “incredibly concerning”.

“We want to see this behaviour eradicated from football,” Roberts said. “We are also working to help tackle the causes of hate crime, with a mixture of education, helping those involved to understand the harm it causes, and diversionary activities for young supporters. This will remain a focus until we are able to eliminate this vile behaviour and ensure a safe and friendly space for everyone to support and enjoy football.”

AFC Defends Safety Measures 

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has defended safety measures they have put into place after AFC Champions League title-holders Al Hilal were not allowed to be a part of the single venue tournament having lost too many players because of positive Covid-19 tests in their side.

The Saudi team has accused the AFC of showing insufficient "flexibility" when the club was not able to produce a 13-man squad.

Only 11 players were fit to play against UAE's Shabab Al Ahli in Doha after 30 players and staff tested positive.

When asked if they had concerns regarding the number of growing cases, the AFC said they have taken sufficient measures at the Qatar hub where the West Asia group fixtures are taking place.

"There has been no transmission of Covid-19 between two competing teams throughout the matches," they said in a statement. “AFC will continue to do everything in its power to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.”

The football body insisted it was committed to "ensuring the safe completion of the AFC Champions League".

Fans Back at Bundesliga

Bundesliga fans made a return to the stadiums, but under strict conditions and guidelines — chief among them being that if there are too many cases in the host city then the fans would not be allowed to be present at the stadiums.

Schalke fans are the ones facing such a restriction for their Saturday fixture against Werder Bremen. If the number of cases don’t rise then the club is expected to have 12,000 supporters, but the infection rate is still high even after seeing a downfall in number.

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The threshold is 35 new cases for a population of 100,000 for a seven-day period. If more cases than that take place then the match would take place without spectators. Schalke’s home city of Gelsenkirchen saw an average of 39.1 cases on Wednesday and 37.6 on Thursday.

UEFA to Continue With Five Subs

UEFA will allow teams to make 5 substitutions in every match that is being played, instead of three for the remainder of the season, the European football governing body’s president Aleksander Ceferin said.

In a news conference Ceferin said the rule will be applicable to the Champions League and Europa League along with the Nations League and the playoff ties that will take place before Euro 2020 (postponed to next year).

The increase in substitutions came into effect from the last season when the aim was to take some pressure off players as matches queued up at short durations due to a need to complete the season within a shortened time frame.

Ceferin also said that the 2020-21 Nations League will take place in October next year. Italy, the Netherlands and Poland have shown enthusiasm in hosting matches.

Akinfenwa Unhappy

Adebayo Akinfenwa has expressed displeasure after the FA concluded that calling him “fat water buffalo” was not a racist comment.

The Wycombe striker had accused a Fleetwood Town representative of calling him that in last season’s League One play-off semi-final. The FA had confirmed the incident.

However, the governing body noted that the incident was not worthy of punishing the representative. The FA received an official complaint from Wycombe and said it had asked for a report from “an independent expert in race relations” and asked him to give him an “expert” opinion.

“The expert was provided with all the details of the allegation, as well as the context in which the words were used, and concluded that the words were not objectively racist,” the FA said. 

“The FA understands the offence that has been caused to the WWFC player by their use. The FA will therefore seek to monitor the use of these words moving forwards and discourage their use given the potential they have to offend.”

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