At the start of the 2019/20 season, alongside The Football Association and the Premier League, a protocol was introduced to domestic football in a collective attempt to ensure the matchday environment provides a positive experience for all.
The protocol, which has been devised in consultation with numerous organisations throughout the game, is designed to ensure that incidents of abuse are effectively addressed, perpetrators are identified and dealt with, while at the same time make sure that the match is not unduly interrupted.
It is part of the game’s continued efforts to tackle discrimination, and fans across the EFL are reminded that such instances will not be tolerated at any football stadium in this country.
The matchday protocol is as follows:
- The incident should in the first instance be brought to the attention of the Referee.
- The Referee should report the matter to the Home Club’s Safety Officer and the Police (where present) via the Fourth Official.
- The Police and Safety Officer should seek to identify the person/people responsible and take appropriate action while the match continues.
- If, after a reasonable amount of time, the problem continues then the Referee, in consultation with the Police and Safety Officer, may remove the players from the field of play and suspend the match, allowing the Police and Safety Officer a further opportunity to deal with the problem.
- Only if the matter cannot be dealt with satisfactorily, warnings having gone unheeded and the welfare of any of the participants, in terms of facing the threat of continued racist, homophobic or other abuse, remains at risk, should the Referee consider abandoning the match.
- Any decision to suspend or abandon a match should be taken by the Referee after full consultation with the Police, Safety Officer and where possible with the EFL Football Services Department or Duty Director.
- Where no Police are present in the stadium then the initial decision-making responsibility falls on the Safety Officer, including informing the Police.
Any such incidents of racial abuse are reported by the officials to The Football Association, with a decision then taken on whether further investigation is required.