Below we reproduce a statement from Kick It Out in response to the findings of a report by the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee.
With the One Game, One Community weeks of action beginning a month today, the CMS Select Committee has announced more needs to be done to tackle discrimination in football.
‘I played from the 70s to the 90s and the game very much mirrored the ugliness of society at that time. It was on occasion a turbulent and difficult time,’ said Paul Elliott, who captained Celtic and Chelsea during his time as one of the UK’s leading black players. He spoke in the wake of the announcement, urging players to take greater leadership whilst praising the work already taking place via clubs and the Professional Footballers’ Association.
‘The findings and government intervention are important but it’s the job of football and all its stakeholders to ensure this is actioned. Leadership is key, and moral leadership at that.’
The call echoes that of the report itself published today (19 September 2012) which says that football authorities at all levels of the game, supporters’ and players’ groups need to take responsibility for pro-actively tackling all forms of discrimination, including racism, but it is the Football Association that must take the lead and set a strong example for others to follow.
Lord Herman Ouseley, Kick It Out chair, acknowledged the findings and progress made, citing clubs’ and authorities backing to the initiatives like the One Game, One Community weeks of action with everyone ‘around the table’.
‘The focus of the findings is about the role of The FA as the game’s governing body in being proactive to step up those areas where there needs to be more activity such as leadership on disciplinary matters, opening up opportunities for coaching and management and raising the standard of morality in the game.
‘For us the report is reaffirmation of the work we do all year round. Football does reflect society in terms of boardroom composition; white, middle aged and male. There’s nothing wrong with that but we live in a diverse society. The game needs to move more towards a wider societal representation.
‘What is also clear is then need to limit abuse and obnoxiousness that goes with discrimination of any kind. Our area of work must continue at a quicker pace from everyone committed in this field. The messages are clear and it is important we keep reinforcing them. Phases of complacency can set in when there are fewer incidents. We must be very wary of this.’
‘In amongst all of this, we must recognise education is key. From the moment we step out of the womb, people are filling our heads with all sorts of things which form our views, opinions and attitudes. Kick It Out works to educate all groups of people, youngsters through to people in their later years. Young people in football, and sport more generally, can sometimes be seen as espousing less discriminatory views and language as people in professional sport. The examples set at this level are ones the professional game needs to be reflect.
‘For me and many others like me, racism in football has simply been a fact of life. There were times when I thought; I can’t do this anymore. Part of the reason Kick It Out was established was due to finding the experience of going to football unacceptable. Racism was horrendous and, at that time, violence was far more prevalent.
‘We’ve moved a long way but it’s still a factor.’
When discussing the role football has to play in issues surrounding the use of social media, Lord Ouseley said he felt people within the game needed to be extra careful when publishing their thoughts.
‘Football needs to lead the way in setting a moral tone. We’ve seen many instances taking place and we need to compliment The FA in the stance its taken in sanctions for social media abuse. Players need to think what they say and ultimately be responsible and accountable for what they say. One word out of place can brand you a racist and clubs and governing bodies need to give sound advice and guidance on this as part of their role.’
A joint statement from The FA, the PFA and the Premier League, welcomed the report.
‘We agree with the Committee that whilst substantial progress has been made to promote equality and tackle discrimination in the game, challenges remain for all of the football authorities.
‘We remain committed, along with all of our stakeholders, to promoting equality and diversity within the game and to the eradication of all forms of discrimination in football.
‘We will continue to work across the entire breadth of the sport to deliver our inclusion and anti-discrimination agenda. In doing so, we will consider in detail how the Committee’s recommendations can support and influence this work.’
A copy of the report can be downloaded here (pdf file 1.2MB).