A statement from Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation.
"We have received a number of complaints* from Hartlepool United supporters about the Bob Marley fancy dress theme planned by a group of the club’s fans for their fixture against Carlisle United at Brunton Park on Saturday 2 May. The main concerns raised have been over the potential of fans deciding to ‘black up’.
“We have subsequently followed up on the complaints by contacting both Hartlepool United and Carlisle United on the matter. We clearly outlined that ‘blacking up’ has historically been a way of acting out racist stereotypes, and while the theme planned by fans may be well intended and chosen as part of an annual fancy dress tradition, such behaviour, if it occurs, is likely to cause offence.
“We have provided guidance to both clubs on the matter, and advised Carlisle United of our own stance that if any fans do choose to ‘black up’ they should be refused entry to their stadium. We have also contacted The Football Association, the Football League, and the United Kingdom Football Policing Unit to inform them of the complaints we have received from Hartlepool United supporters.
“If we do receive complaints informing us that supporters have ‘blacked up’ at the fixture between Carlisle United and Hartlepool United, or that any incidents or disturbances of a discriminatory nature have occurred, we will follow our usual procedures by making The Football Association and the Football League aware for them to investigate.”