Raheem Sterling has been one of the players who has spoken his mind about racism in football. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

LONDON  Reports of discrimination in English football rose for the seventh successive year last season, equality organization Kick it Out said Wednesday.

Figures gathered by the anti-racism group showed reports of racism - in league and grass-roots football - grew 43 per cent last season, from 192 to 274.

The total of 581 reports of discrimination of all kinds is more than double the figure from five years ago.

Roisin Wood, the chief of Kick it Out, told BBC Sport the increase in reports of racist abuse were linked to Brexit.

"I think you can't not link them together," she said. "We're seeing a lot of reports of 'go back to where you came from' which we haven't seen for a while, which seems to be on the back of Brexit."

"If we're seeing a rise in hate crime...it's linked because that's what is going on in society at the moment. If it's there, we'll see it in football."

A total of 159 reports were received via social media and Wood said the online abuse was particularly vicious.

"We're talking to people all the time that feel, post-Brexit, that 'maybe this country isn't for me'," she said.

Reports of faith-based discrimination - including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism - rose by 75 per cent from 36 to 63.

The Football Association said it had been working hard to improve things.

dpa