Football players as young as seven subjected to racist abuse

A major conference in Leicester has discussed how to protect children from racist abuse at grassroots level.

The BAME Football Forum is the first grassroots led partnership aimed at tackling the problem at a local level.

They say the issue is widespread with players as young as seven showered with abuse from parents and spectators.

Leicester Nirvana FC prides itself as being one of the more progressive football clubs in the East Midlands.

Its status as an inner-city community club has seen it attract a diverse mix of players but it's also made the target for a barrage of insults from opposition players and spectators.

  • Ivan Liburd, a coach for Leicester Nirvana FC, says the abuse is putting people off the sport:

But Leicester Nirvana isn't alone in its experience.

In a recent survey over half the people asked thought that racism and discrimination in football had increased in the past five years.

Three quarters said they had witnessed or experienced it in the last 12 months.

And perhaps the most worryingly finding - that children and young people were often the target.

Credit: ITV Central

Among the guest speakers at their first major conference was former Leicester City striker Emile Heskey.

He was no stranger to racism during his time on the pitch but would play through the chants and insults - convinced that it was the best way of fighting back.

  • We asked Emile Heskey whether that approach could still work today:

Only recently have methods of fighting racism been tested at the highest level.

England's game in Bulgaria saw the match stopped twice because of monkey chants aimed at the team's black players.

Many say the same procedures now need to be introduced at grassroots level.

Watch Pablo Taylor's full report:

Read more: