Author: Sanjay Bhandari, Executive Chair of Kick It Out
Kick It Out is English football’s equality and inclusion organisation. Founded as the “Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign in 1993, its remit quickly expanded to other forms of discrimination. Kick It Out is now a charity that serves under-represented and minority communities in football from elite to grassroots and community level. Our ambition is to make football a game where everyone feels that they belong and to eliminate discrimination. We tackle discrimination and champion inclusion through programmes around three pillars:
Given the remit of our organisation, we are responding only to Question 6. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these issues in further detail, perhaps together with some of our colleagues at the Football Association or elsewhere from the football community.
In our experience, the biggest challenge in this area is the lack of holistic and integrated design thinking reflecting the fragmented governance of sports. There are many individual initiatives and often these are reactive to external events so, across sport, this results in fragmented approaches. For example, look at the sheer number of anti-racist messages and initiatives across football from clubs to charities to leagues. There is a similar plethora of messages and approaches across other strands of inclusion/protected characteristics. As part of my strategic review of Kick it Out, I met over 250 stakeholders across football including clubs of many sizes from elite to grassroots level. One common theme was around the fragmentation of message and approach and this created a feeling of campaign fatigue and ennui at some clubs. This was partly the reason why Kick it Out created its Take A Stand campaign with Facebook so that, by design, it could potentially act as an umbrella to straddle different strands of inclusion and tackling discrimination whilst seeking to convert bystanders into activists and engage them in solutions. This is at very early stages of activation.
We suggest that the problem needs to be looked at through two lenses each of which has two contrasting dimensions, effectively creating a connected 4 box strategy:
- Elite v. grassroots
- Tackling discrimination v. Promoting inclusion
There are connections between each but the challenges are subtly different. For example:
We would welcome the opportunity to have a more in-depth conversation on this aspect of the broader challenge that the Committee is addressing.
29 January 2021