Top clubs have been encouraged to follow the example of Altrincham after the club wore a rainbow-coloured kit in a competitive fixture in support of football’s fight against homophobia.
In a move Altrincham say is the first of its kind, the National League North side’s usual red and white stripes were replaced with the colours of the LGBT pride flag for their fixture at home to Bradford (Park Avenue) on Saturday.
The kit features the logo of Football v Homophobia and has attracted global attention.
Campaign director Lou Englefield said: “It’s fantastic for us and has had amazing support.
“You could not believe the debate and talk it’s caused across the world. Obviously it’s also been met with some homophobic and derogatory comments on social media over the last week too, but that happens when people stick their heads over the parapet and Altrincham have done that today.”
Englefield said other non-league clubs have contacted the campaign about making similar statements of support, but she would also like to see clubs from the top end of English football taking part.
“It would be amazing to see one of the big clubs follow Altrincham’s lead,” she said.
“Let’s get that message out as far and as wide as possible.
“But, to be fair, the coverage Altrincham have had has reached Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America, it’s been amazing.”
Before the game kicked off, Altrincham chairman Bill Waterson told the club’s website: “We believe it will be the first time anywhere in the world that a senior football club has worn a kit solely modelled on the LGBT pride flag.
“And Altrincham will, therefore, be creating a small moment of football history.”
The match at the J Davidson Stadium ended 1-1, with Altrincham midfielder Josh Hancock’s first-half finish cancelled out by a scrambled late equaliser from the visitors’ Danny East.
The shirts worn by Altrincham FC players on Saturday will be auctioned off to raise money for The Proud Trust. For more information, click here.
Source – Sky Sports . com / Football
Pursuit in Progress is the associations new plan to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in football.
The Football Association has announced its new three year equality, diversity and inclusion plan called In Pursuit of Progress.
The new plan is part of The FA’s commitment, announced in January, to ensure the diversity of those leading and governing football better reflects what we see on the modern pitch.
In Pursuit of Progress is a new strategy that will deliver initiatives primarily focused around gender and ethnicity across The FA’s general workforce and leadership roles, including coaching staff across the England teams.
The FA’s three-year plan focuses on The FA and its culture, the support structures around the England teams, the grassroots workforce and inclusion programmes across the game.
In 2014, The FA introduced English Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan and has continued to make good progress to improve equality, diversity and inclusion across English football. This includes the formation of The FA Inclusion Advisory Board, strict anti-discrimination regulations with robust reporting mechanisms and tough sanctions across the game, clear inclusion structures for every County FA, with many progressing through the levels of the Equality Standard for Sport, and meeting Sport England’s Code for Sports Governance.
As a result, The FA’s current workforce consists of 32 per cent female staff, 13 per cent staff from BAME backgrounds and has an average age of 37.
Today, The FA has set out a new focused, challenging and achievable set of targets that have deliberately chosen to help drive faster and more meaningful change within the organisation.
These changes will make The FA a more diverse organisation that will, it hopes, better reflect modern-day football and society, while also helping to bring down barriers and inspire the next generation.
These new targets, which aim to be completed by 2021, initially focus on improving opportunities around gender and ethnicity, however The FA will continue to work with and support all under-represented groups.
Paul Elliott, chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board, said: “This new plan signifies The FA’s determination to accelerate the pace of change of the organisation and taking a real leadership role.
“Since 2016, The FA has more than doubled the number of senior women – including now having t h r e e women on t h e F A Board. BAME representation at The FA has also improved greatly over recent years, but we know there is room for improvement. “This new commitment from The FA proves that they are redoubling their efforts to bring our great sport together.”
FA chairman Greg Clarke, below, said: “As the governing body of English football we want to lead the way in equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also benefit the organisation greatly. A diverse workforce is an effective workforce and we want The FA to reflect modern society in this country.
“It will not happen overnight, but this is a significant step in the right direction to make football more equal, more diverse and more inclusive for all.”
Source – The Voice Online
Black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches (BAME) will be offered work placements with senior England teams to help increase diversity in football.
It is one of the measures outlined by the Football Association in a new equality action plan.
The FA said in January it was working on plans to increase equality in the organisation and the wider sport.
“We want the FA to reflect modern society in this country,” FA chairman Greg Clarke said.
“It will not happen overnight, but this is a significant step in the right direction to make football more equal, more diverse and more inclusive for all.”
The three-year action plan, called In Pursuit of Progress, puts forward a range of measures and targets it wants to hit by 2021.
It is designed to address recruitment, identify and nurture talent from different backgrounds and narrow the gender pay gap from the highest levels of the FA down to grassroots level.
Some of the changes have been driven by the Eniola Aluko controversy, after the then-Chelsea Ladies striker said she was victimised for reporting discrimination in the England camp.
“Naturally I welcome any initiative to champion the causes of diversity and inclusion in football – however long it takes to arrive. I look forward to supporting the FA in its aims and objectives in this area,” said Herman Ouseley, chairman of campaign group Kick It Out. – Kick it out have also been shortlisted for the 2018 National Diversity Awards!
The FA says it will introduce an NFL-style ‘Rooney Rule’ to ensure at least one BAME candidate is interviewed for any England role “if a suitably-qualified BAME candidate applies” – a measure first outlined earlier this year.
“Of the 23-man squad which competed so well this summer in the Fifa World Cup in Russia, 12 were black or mixed-background,” an FA spokesperson said.
“They are a vibrant, modern team that represents England at its best. It is our ambition that our coaching and support staff better reflect what’s been achieved on the pitch.”
Other measures include:
Source: BBC Sport
A teenager with cerebral palsy who was constantly “left on the bench” at football games launched a disability team called “Adversity United.”
Cameron Osburn, 17, joined a local football club when he was eight-years-old but said he was “never picked to play in the matches and felt excluded from all the other players.”
The teenager, from Harrogate, said he eventually began to play with a disability football team in York and at the age of 16, set up Adversity United.
“I discovered my urge to coach football and decided to set up and coach my own football club for young children with disabilities as I didn’t have any opportunity to play on a fair level playing field,” he said.
“The training sessions that Adversity United provides have had a huge impact on the players confidence, communication and their footballing skills. There has been a huge growth in all players since September which has been noticed by parents at home and in school.
“We hope to continue to give players the opportunity to have fun and develop their skills further.”
The sessions are a positive environment where the team members have goals such as “make a positive comment to a teammate” and “try to use your weaker foot.”
He was recently shortlisted for a National Diversity Award which he said is “a huge achievement not just for myself but for Adversity United.“
He added: “It can promote clubs that are giving opportunities to young people who struggle in mainstream sports and hopefully more people can get involved in disability sports from this.
“I have also been shortlisted for a West Riding FA Award for my contribution to disability football.”
In his spare time, Cameron goes into primary schools and talks to children about his story and how to raise awareness of people with disabilities.
Now that Adversity United has become a success, the teenager would like to expand it so that sessions are available to teenagers.
“I would say we need to create more opportunities in sport for young people with disabilities as there isn’t enough. I hope that I can inspire many others to help get more young people with disabilities involved in sport.”
Aside from coaching, Cameron is also focusing on improving himself as a football player through gym training and individual training.
He said he is looking “to take his football to the next level which is being in the England U21’s Cerebral Palsy football squad.“
Commons Speaker John Bercow said it would ‘do wonders’ if players felt able to be openly gay.
Gay footballers coming out would help boost the cause of equality, Commons Speaker John Bercow has said.
Mr Bercow said it would “do wonders for the cause” if players felt able to be open about their sexuality, adding that it was “wholly implausible” that there were not gay stars in the top tier of the sport.
At an event hosted by the Speaker, former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas – who came out in 2009 and has campaigned to tackle homophobia in sport – said he wanted to create a culture where players or coaching staff “wouldn’t face criticism or abuse for being who they are”.
Thomas, who also captained the British Lions, was in Westminster to back a change in the law which would make homophobic abuse at football grounds illegal in the same way that racism is.
Mr Bercow, who was hosting a reception in Westminster for those campaigning for a change in the law, said: “I do find it really odd in football that people just don’t come out as gay.
“On the law of averages I just find it literally inconceivable, wholly implausible, that in Premier League clubs and across the divisions there aren’t gay footballers.
“I just find this really odd.”
Arsenal fan Mr Bercow said: “I have to say I do think it would do wonders for the cause of LGBT equality if people felt able, felt they had the space and the freedom and the protection and the support … to come out and say, ‘This is who I am’.”
He praised the efforts made by his club, and added: “If we are at least to create a climate in which people feel they can say, ‘This is me, I am first and foremost preoccupied with playing football but by the way I’m gay’ or, ‘By the way I’m bisexual’ that would be such a healthy place to reach.”
Asked about Mr Bercow’s comments, Thomas told the Press Association “it would challenge opinions, I’m not sure it would change opinions” if a player came out.
He said he wanted to create an environment where players or staff could come out without fear.
“I think that’s the overwhelmingly important message from today, is to create the environment,” he said.
“I don’t think any sports really are in the clear, all sport needs to try and catch up.
“Football is the world-dominating game, it’s the most publicised game, it’s the most played game, it’s the most watched.”
Because of that status, football “could be a leader in this rather than a follower”.
Thomas said when he attends football or rugby matches he still hears homophobic comments, although not aimed at him.
“I get insulted at people shouting at other people, homophobic comments not directed at me.
Damian Collins Twitter – “Fantastic to have the support of the
@FA and Paul Elliott for today’s Bill to amend the Football Offences Act to include homophobic abuse”
“But it sometimes happens when people see me, they realise that would be offensive to me so they don’t say it – it’s like, well why would you say it in the first place?
“That’s the whole thing of creating that environment where, regardless of who is around you, regardless of who is saying that, it’s an offence to do it so people would think twice about doing it, rather than think twice because there is somebody who is openly gay with them.”
Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, is leading efforts to change the law by amending the 1991 Football Offences Act to put homophobic abuse on a par with racism.
The move would outlaw “chanting or gesturing in relation to a person’s sexual orientation or gender reassignment”.
He said there was a concern about “whether there remains an atmosphere or a culture around homophobia in football which makes it difficult for people to be open about themselves and their lives and people that they love”.
“It could be one of the reasons why we have no openly gay footballers playing in the senior levels of professional football,” he said.
Mr Collins urged the Government to back the Football (Offences) (Amendment) Bill to make sure it progresses through Parliament.
He said he had been in touch with sports minister Tracey Crouch about his plan.
Paul Elliott, chairman of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, wrote to Mr Collins to offer his support.
“The FA has long called for the criminalisation of homophobic chanting at football matches, and we are therefore delighted that you agree that this would be a valuable action for government to take,” he said.
England kicked off their World Cup campaign by putting their faith in youth as they took on Tunisia and won the game by 2 goals to nil with a late winner from the captain, Harry Kane. Gareth Southgate’s squad have the lowest average age and the fewest caps won of any of the 32 teams at the tournament. Only three of the squad – Gary Cahill, Ashley Young and Jamie Vardy – had even been born when Gazza’s (Paul Gascoigne) tears captured a nation’s hearts at Italia ’90. Yet while the team’s youth has been the subject of much hype, another factor about this England squad has not captured any headlines: this is the most ethnically diverse squad that England has ever taken to the World Cup.
Eleven of the squad of 23 are black or of mixed ethnicity, compared to six England players who went to the World Cup in 2014, and nine at the last European Championships two years ago. Little or no attention has been paid to this. Why? Because there are now few things more normal, or less controversial, than cheering on a multi-ethnic football team. Yet while the current team’s diversity is taken for granted, this is only a relatively recent change.
Until Diego Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ moment in the quarter-final in Mexico in 1986, no black footballer had ever played for England at a World Cup finals. But in the last 15 minutes of that game, John Barnes came on as a substitute and did his best to turn the game around – creating one goal for Gary Lineker and almost setting up an equaliser too. Of course, Barnes wasn’t the first black player to win an England cap. That honour belonged to full-back Viv Anderson, who played for his country in 1978. Yet while the talent of either player was not in doubt, Barnes and Anderson’s inclusion in the England team was not welcomed by all. When John Barnes scored his greatest ever goal, a mazy run through the Brazil defence in the Maracana Stadium, to put England two-nil up, a section of the England support, infiltrated by the National Front, chanted “one-nil, one-nil” on the grounds that black goals didn’t count.
Others didn’t even wait for black England players to take to the pitch to let their feelings be known. The late, great Cyrille Regis, who died this year, wrote in his autobiography about his experience of being selected to play for his country in 1982, and arriving at the West Brom ground to find a pile of fan mail:
‘Clearly, someone didn’t approve of my selection, because they had cut out individual letters from a newspaper and stuck them on a sheet of paper to spell out a message that read ‘If you put your foot on our Wembley turf, you’ll get one of these through your knees’. I looked back into the envelope and there was a cotton wool pad wrapped around something. I took it out, opened it up, and there it was: a bullet staring up at me. I’ve still got it to this day. The letter soon got binned, but I kept the bullet as a reminder of the force of anger and evil that some people had within them back then. For the rest of my days, it was also a motivation, a reminder that these people were not going to stop me’
Of course, racism has not gone away. Danny Rose, Ashley Young and other England players have expressed their concerns about the possibility that racism may rear its ugly face on the Russian terraces. Yet back home, thirty years of change on the field has meant that English people, whatever their faith or background, feel proud of their team: three quarters of the general public (74 per cent) and of ethnic minorities (74 per cent) say that the England squad is a symbol of the country that belongs to people of every race and ethnic background, according to a Survation poll for British Future. That means there is a higher level of support for England’s football team than for the St George’s flag or a St George’s Day party.
England does not expect our team to bring the trophy back home from Russia this year, though a couple of good results against Tunisia and Panama would see fans start to believe that we might progress to the quarter-finals, or even possibly further. In 1996, Baddiel and Skinner sang about ‘thirty years of hurt’. Yet while England have failed to match their success in 1966, the acceptance of England’s richly diverse squad shows that English football isn’t all doom and gloom. The trophy cabinet might be relatively empty, but thirty years of change has given us an England team that belongs to us all.
Source: Blog Spectator
25 representatives from the Wrexham Inclusion Football Club have set off to take part in one of the biggest disability tournaments in the UK.
The players flew to Northern Ireland on Wednesday to compete in the George Best Community Cup.
Run by the Irish Football Association, the event brings together hundreds of players from disability football clubs each year for its five-a-side cup competition.
This year more than 500 players from 70 disability football clubs throughout the UK and Ireland will descended on the Billy Neill complex in Dundonald in County Down, to compete in the annual tournament.
Over 350 games will be played over two days, with matches taking place on 12 pitches in four different ability bands. Wrexham Inclusion Football Club will have three teams across three different ability levels.
Last year’s event saw great success for the Wrexham team, who this year hope to go one better and bring the trophy home.
The club are staying at the local university where evening meals and breakfast is provided in the university canteen – bringing together teams to encourage friendship and meeting new people.
The event will also be the first of a different kind for some players, who will be away from home and flying on a plane for the first time.
Commenting on the event, team manager Carl Austin said: “For many players it will be the first time they have been away from home without family or even the first time they have been away from Wales.
“Sometimes we take things for granted that we are able to go away when we want but for many people because lack of opportunities, staffing issues, family circumstances etc prevent these opportunities arising so as a club where very proud to be able to provide a brilliant opportunity.
“There are only a few clubs up and down the county who travel like we do and that’s down to the amazing volunteers we have it’s so nice to see that the whole town appreciates the amazing work they do to support our absolutely incredible players.”
It’s been a busy year for Wrexham Inclusion Football Club, who last month headed to Munich to take part in the European Mental Health Championships.