Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Forest chants subject to Police 'hate' probe

Nottinghamshire Constabulary have launched an investigation in to what they have described as 'hate crimes' following what they deemed to be illicit chanting from Nottingham Forest supporters last weekend.

The chants, aimed at Leicester City fans at the City Ground during the dull East Midlands derby in the FA Cup third round, were filmed by a Forest supporter and uploaded onto YouTube. The clip shows Forest fans chanting, "You used to be English, you're not any more" to Foxes' supporters.

"The incident is being treated as a hate crime and we are reviewing CCTV footage and following up on a number of lines of inquiry," said Superintendent Mark Holland of the Nottinghamshire Constabulary, "We take all reports of racism very seriously and work extremely closely with the football clubs in Nottinghamshire in a bid to kick racism out of the game.

"There was some action taken on the day by the club that we are looking into," he told BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, "The nature of this could be deemed as racist and we are currently discussing the nature of the chanting with the Crown Prosecution Service to see if it would pass a threshold test should we wish to follow a criminal prosecution.

"If this is indeed aimed at the people of Leicester and not to do with the club's ownership, I'm sure the Crown Prosecution Service would take a view on this."

The issue of racism has come to the forefront of football in the past months, with Liverpool striker Luiz Suarez being banned for eight games by the FA following his abuse of Patrice Evra. England skipper John Terry faces a court case over words he said towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

The Police action has been met with criticism from both sets of supporters, however, who view the chanting not as racist, but merely as a dig at Leicester and their Thai-based owners. The Foxes have been subject to what many have deemed worse abuse from supporters of other clubs, who chanted slurs at Leicester fans regarding the high ethnic population in the city.

Indeed, Leicester fans countered the chants with one of their own, directed at Forest's meagre league position in comparison to their history, singing, "You used to be famous, you're not any more".

"Is that Forest chanting really racist?" wrote Tom Howe of Nottingham on Twitter, "To me it seem more about the club rather than Leicester itself."

The two clubs will replay their FA Cup third round tie at the King Power Stadium next week, with the fixture being moved forward by 24 hours to Tuesday, 17th January to be shown live on ESPN. Kick-off will be at 7:30pm.

Edited 11/01/12 11:16 - Included detail of interview with Mark Holland on BBC Radio 5 Live.
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