Racism has been suffocating and sabotaging football as long as we can remember, but the last year has sparked a fresh outpouring of efforts to eradicate the game’s greatest weakness. From players taking the knee, to the nation’s triumphant response to the abuse following the Euro 2020 final, the issue is one we’re still navigating and trying to find an answer to.

But Roisin Wood, former CEO of Kick it Out, an organisation that strives to tackle racism at all levels of the game, has noticed a promising change in public perception. Whereas previously it was accepted that not everyone wanted to vocalise their opinions, now it’s recognised we must respond to the abuse we witness all too often online and in stadiums.

Speaking exclusively to UCFB as part of the GIS Toronto Sports Summit, she said: “People know it’s not enough to sit back anymore and go ‘that’s terrible’. You need some sort of noise that goes, ‘you’re terrible, you’re wrong, you don’t represent us. You just represent your own small-mindedness.’”

The prime example of this? The boos that menacingly echoed around Wembley during the Euros, and that have callously crept into the Premier League this season, when players take the knee. Kick It Out, along with other anti-discrimination organisations, have called for a response to such behaviour that will, literally and metaphorically, overrule it.

Wood continued: “The majority of fans don’t want this – but the minority voice is being heard and I think it’s down to the rest of the fans to start clapping, drowning them out and not giving them the stage that they’ve got. So, we need to now activate ourselves and take a stand. We’re not letting you define the headlines anymore because you’re the minority and I’m not letting you define me.”

But in order to suppress the ignorant minority, she says, we must act as a collective. Particularly for female fans in a male-dominated sport, it can be difficult, or even dangerous, to voice your own opinion without the support of others.

Wood finished: “Sometimes it’s scary, especially if you’re on your own. If there’s four big guys speaking out, I want to take them on but I’m slightly scared. So it has to be the collective, you have to make them feel small. You have to go you’re the minority, you’re the problem, the rest of us are not.”