Professional football clubs must denounce far-right hooligan plans to confront anti-racist protestors

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Professional football clubs in the capital must denounce the plans of far-right football groups to disrupt Black Lives Matter protests in London this weekend, Labour’s London Assembly Policing and Crime spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM, has urged.

Mr Desai’s calls come in the wake of reports published by anti-racist advocacy group, Hope Not Hate, warning that organisations such as the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) are encouraging members to travel to the capital from across the country to confront protestors campaigning for racial justice this Saturday.

Convicted fraudster Stephen-Yaxley Lennon, (aka Tommy Robinson) has also supported and promoted the arrangements for the counter-demonstration.

Mr Desai has now written to professional football clubs based in London asking them to use their widespread influence and publicly condemn these plans in order to dissuade football fans from taking part.

In his letter, he raised concerns that the presence of far-right groups, such as the DFLA, could inflame tensions and exacerbate the pockets of violence that have been witnessed at previous marches.

Mr Desai praised the vital work being undertaken by professional footballers and clubs to combat racism in the game in both of its overt and systemic forms.

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However, he warns against allowing racism to sneak back into the culture of football “through the back door”.

Mr Desai said: “Professional football clubs must come together and use their widespread influence to publicly denounce the plans of hooligans and far-right football organisations to disrupt the Black Lives Matter protests.

“The presence of these hooligans, aimed at pushing a regressive and hateful agenda, will risk inflaming tensions and pockets of violence when demonstrations have been, for the most part, peaceful and constructive so far.

“Players have been showing their solidarity with campaigners and clubs have already undertaken some hugely important work to stamp out matchday hate crime and institutional racism in the game.

“With the football season suspended and stadiums closed, we must not turn our backs and allow racism to sneak back into the culture of the game through the backdoor.”

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