Ipswich Town report dramatic increase in racist, homophobic and xenophobic chanting at Portman Road
PUBLISHED: 08:03 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 21 February 2020
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town club officials say they are tackling the issue of racist, homophobic and xenophobic chanting during matches head on.
Town's supporter liaison officer Stuart Hayton told BBC Radio Suffolk that fans had been in contact with the club to express their disappointment at the abuse, which has been reported in all four stands of the ground.
Despite the increase in reports, Mr Hayton said the club is keen to eradicate insensitive chanting from individuals at Portman Road.
However, he admitted there is a difficulty in proving the guilt of suspected offenders.
He hopes by speaking about the issue, fans will be "less afraid" to report the abuse anonymously to the club, which can be done via email or through a phone line.
He said: "We always act upon things - we've got to have zero tolerance at the club.
"We want everyone to be able to come to Portman Road and enjoy a fantastic, family entertainment venue."
Mr Hayton added: "This is a small minority of fans. What we wanted to do was get this out into the public domain, rather than hide it away.
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"It is sad and we will do what we can to tackle it."
Ipswich Town have been keen to stress their zero-tolerance message regarding abuse, which is repeated in every matchday programme.
The club issued a statement and launched an investigation earlier in the season after receiving allegations of racist chanting at an away match at Luton Town.
Some Blues fans were heard singing offensive chants from the away end during the Carabao Cup first-round clash back in August.
The 2019/20 football season in England has been marred by several racist and homophobic incidents, with numerous fans of clubs throughout the league pyramid receiving lengthy bans for abuse.
Ipswich Town fanss have admitted that they have heard fellow supporters being abusive and, at times, racist.
Claire Louise said on Facebook: "I was called to give a statement - it does happen."
Meanhile, Mark Barrett added: "I have heard a lot of it in society. Football grounds are just places where people let out their inhibitions openly."