Zurich — Racist abuse from the stands remains widespread at football matches, and a large majority of fans do not know how to report it, an international survey showed on Wednesday.

More than half of 27,000 fans interviewed by British antidiscrimination body Kick It Out and Swedish-based Forza Football across 38 countries said they had heard racist abuse being hurled at matches.

Fewer than a third knew how to report it.

Kick It Out and Forza Football said the results strengthened the case for points deductions in incidents of racism from a team’s supporters.

Of the supporters interviewed 60% backed the idea of teams losing points in the event of racist behaviour by fans.

Currently, teams are usually punished with fines or a partial stadium closure.

“The governing bodies must do more to promote methods of reporting racism — clubs or countries whose supporters are racially abusive should face harsher sanctions, including points deductions,” said Herman Ousely, chair of Kick it Out.

The survey said the proportion of fans who had witnessed racism was highest in three Latin American nations, at 77% in Peru and Costa Rica, and 71% in Colombia.

The survey found that, on average, 84% of fans would be comfortable with a player of a different ethnic or racial background than themselves representing their nation or club.

However, this figure varied from 95% in Norway to 19% in the UAE, 15% in Lebanon and just 11% in Saudi Arabia.

“The research is a reminder of the progress that has been made in tackling racism in football, and the challenges that remain,” said Ousely.