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Football unites to tackle discrimination

25 Feb 2019
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Leaders from across the game, including Premier League, table proposals to improve diversity at summit chaired by Sports Minister Mims Davies

Leaders from across the game, including the Premier League, have put forward a series of proposals to tackle discrimination in football and improve diversity.

The proposals were tabled at a summit chaired by Sports Minister Mims Davies yesterday.

The summit was attended by the Premier League, The FA, EFL, former players, coaches, fan groups, players’ representatives, the UK Football Policing Unit and campaign groups including Show Racism the Red Card, Kick it Out and Stonewall.

Under the proposals football bodies and relevant authorities will work together on developing further plans to:

  • Work on initiatives to help increase the amount of black and ethnic minorities into football professions such as coaches including transparency and opportunity around the recruitment process;
  • Develop closer partnership between football authorities and the police, to improve the identification and sanctioning of offenders at matches;
  • The football authorities to look at the current sanctioning regime and consider if improvements are needed to further act as a deterrent;
  • Give greater support to, and improve consistency of stewarding in dealing with discrimination throughout the football leagues.
  • Football will look at measures to improve the information flow of incident reporting on-the-pitch and the response to players. This is to encourage positive behaviour and ensure match officials, stewarding operations, coaching and academy staff are fully aware of their responsibilities.

The government will hold follow-up meetings with the football organisations in attendance, as well as other interested groups, over the coming months to work through plans, with Sports Minister Mims Davies set to be provided with regular updates on progress.

"We have a duty of care to take a zero-tolerance approach and stamp out discriminatory behaviour"

Mims Davies, Sports Minister

“Whilst progress has been made in tackling discrimination in football over the past 30 years, more needs to be done to promote diversity and inclusion in the game,” Mims Davies, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said.

“Complacency is not an option. We have a duty of care to take a zero-tolerance approach and stamp out discriminatory behaviour.

'This is the first step'

“I’m encouraged by how football has come together today and committed to doing more, through positive action.

“This is just the first step, but by working together and taking responsibility we can help ensure that there is inclusivity at every level of the game.”

A joint statement from The FA, Premier League and EFL said:

"The FA, Premier League and EFL welcomed the opportunity for positive and constructive discussions with the Sports Minister and other stakeholders at today’s meeting. English football has made huge strides in the areas of anti-discrimination and promoting diversity in recent years.

'Commitment to improve'

"Good work has been done – from the introduction of better reporting measures to the delivery of nationwide social inclusion programmes – but recent events have demonstrated that there is clearly much more to do.

"Today we committed to enhancing our work in this area and developing new initiatives to improve BAME representation across the game to supplement those already in existence.

"We all acknowledged the responsibility we have in using our popularity and reach to encourage passionate but positive support of teams and players, and to continuing to ensure that inclusion is at the centre of all our grassroots and community programmes across the country.”

Stopping abuse at matches

The summit also featured discussions on what more football can do to stamp out racist, homophobic and anti-semitic abuse at matches.

It follows a number of incidents of racist chanting and abuse aimed at players, coaches and fans in recent weeks. 

Former players, fan groups and coaches discussed their personal experiences of racism and intolerance in football and what action they want to see to make improvements.

The summit also looked at what clubs are already doing to tackle discrimination and how this work can be build on.

It also touched on how the positive power of football can be used to help address racism and discrimination outside of the sport.

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