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Tower Hamlets politicians urge West Ham to ban Democratic Football Lads Alliance

PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 March 2019

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has signed the letter. Pic: LBTH

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has signed the letter. Pic: LBTH

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Politicans in Tower Hamlets have urged West Ham United’s board to ban activists accused of fuelling racism in football.

Mayor John Biggs, Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali, Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick, fellow Labour MPs Stephen Timms, Lyn Brown and Jon Cruddas and Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, signed a letter to the club last week.

They called on the club to reject the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA).

The letter was also signed by London Assembly member Unmesh Desai, Rob Ferguson, from campaign group, Newham Stand Up To Racism, and by John Ratomski, chairman of West Ham United independent supporters club.

Ahead of last week’s match against Everton they stated: “We ask that West Ham United FC issue a clear unequivocal statement that the DFLA form no part of the West Ham family; they are not welcome at West Ham and never will be.”

The politicians also warned far right activists are targeting matches to recruit supporters under the banner of the DFLA which they accused of fuelling anti-Muslim hatred.

The letter says: “Football is a place where those of all backgrounds and faiths can come together in celebration of sport. Unfortunately, that is now under threat as the DFLA promote racism and division.”

They welcomed the club’s condemnation of the kind of racism recently directed at Liverpool player Mo Salah but added there was a need to “isolate those who promote such poison”.

A West Ham United spokesman said: “The club is unequivocal in its stance against all forms of racism and discrimination.

“Islamophobia, racism, antisemitism and hate crime have no place in our communities and no place in football and we are bemused as to how anyone can think otherwise.

“When West Ham faced Everton, the club was once again clear that equality is at the heart of West Ham United, that our community values run deep and any belief, group or movement that does not share those values will not be welcome.”

A DFLA committee member denied the group was fuelling racism.

He said: “We’re against extremism and racism. We’re not a far right group.”

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