Football campaign kicks out against discrimination

International campaign is starting from the grassroots to fight against racism as well as homophobia in football.

In the past racism was ethnically based but now homophobic behaviour has also become an increasing taboo and overt problem within the sport.

Kevin Coleman, development officer from the equality and inclusion campaign “Kick it Out” told Westminster University students that although supporter power stops overt discrimination, small groups still claim antisemitic discrimination.

Coleman highlighted the success of the campaign by comparing the coming out of black footballer Justin Fashinu with Welsh rugby union captain Gareth Edwards.

Homophobia

Fashinu was the first footballer to admit that he was gay, after being successfully transferred to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forestfor £1 million. He was subjected to a substantial amount of abuse for his declaration which had detrimental effects on his relationship with the club’s manager.

He was barred from every training site and in 1998 was found hanged after years of torment and alleged sexual assault of a 17 year old. His suicide note read: “I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”

The Kick it out campaign was started in 1993 against discrimination in football clubs. It protects vulnerable players by training scholars and referees and reporting prejudice behaviour.

In comparison to Fashinu’s abuse, when Welsh rugby captain Gareth Edwards came out in December last year, Coleman says: “he probably received about 99% support.”

Education

The campaign provides “training for scholars, based on a constant strategy which is moulded by society.”

As an educative enterprize there is little that the campaign can do itself to tackle discriminations but Coleman reassures that they “report details to the Football Association and if we are not satisfied with the response we can approach the Association and make them take a more effective response.”

Although times have moved on from the late 19th century when football was defined by hooliganism and racism, Coleman explains that support is important to protect those who are vulnerable as “old fashion racism still is there”.

With a “small start as a reply to racism in the sport” Coleman said the campaign then recognised there was a niche in the market.

Support

The campaign, of just 7 members of staff is funded by the Football Association, Proffessional Football Association and The Premier League.

It has received a good reception from the public and stands as the second most recognised sport charity there is, after Comic Relief and it’s influence is steadily increasing.

“We have received a lot of positive media which means we get more of the spotlight with this happens.” Coleman adds.

With the support of high profile players such as AC Milan‘s Renaldo, the campaign will go on to support victimised players and move away from previous conceptions of football that entail hooliganism and racism.

About Daisy Bambridge

I am a student at Wesminster University studying a Masters in Broadcast Journalism. I recently graduated from Southampton University after studying Politics and International Relations. I have a strong interest in social issues such as crime,drugs, alcohol, eating disorders. I am also deeply fascinated by terrorism, after the disasters of 9/11, as can be seen in my unergraduate dissertation on anti-terror legislation and human rights.
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