Recent events in the United States, including, but not limited to the tragic death of George Floyd have led to an outpouring of emotion and introspection across the world about racism and other forms of discrimination.
The problem of racism is not unique to the United States and affects many people in the United Kingdom too.
Amongst other sporting professionals, many footballers have shared their stories of racism and emphasised their support for the Black Lives Matter campaign.
As the Premier League restarted, players had Black Lives Matter across their shirts and knelt before kick-off to show their support. This is not to say that all lives don’t matter, but that black lives matter equally.
As elsewhere in society, football has issues with racism. Football has also taken a lead in tackling racism and discrimination. Many people love, play and watch football and it gives us the opportunity to talk about and challenge racist behaviour.
We stand with every member of our community against racism and discrimination in any form, both on and off the pitch.
Football plays a vital role in community across Sussex and brings people together like no other sport. Racism divides these communities and we have a key role in actively bringing people together, and challenging racism and discrimination to make football a game for all our players, parents/carers, coaches, referees, volunteers and employees.
We have worked hard to build an inclusive environment with a strong Disability League, and regular matches for Pride month. In November 2019 we held our inaugural Equality Engagement Evening and initiated projects to work with our county’s diverse Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), refugee and faith communities.
Having reflected, we recognise that we need to do more. We need to listen to the experiences of our players, coaches, referees, volunteers and employees and engage all sections of our communities to make ‘Football For All’.
We welcome the lead that Paul Elliott, the Chair of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, has published an open letter to English football that includes a voluntary code for every club to sign up to. We would like to see all of our clubs sign up to this.
We instituted an Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) back in 2016. We have worked hard to make this group representative of our communities, but recognise we need to bring in members from specific Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. We will actively seek to recruit new members. We will continue to seek a diverse and more representative Board of Directors and have actively sought new members from these communities. We will work with our IAG who can support our work on inclusion throughout our strategies and everyday practices.
We need to ensure that our players, coaches and volunteers have a trustworthy and robust process to report racial abuse and racism. We will work with our IAG to develop, promote and implement this disciplinary process. We will also publish disciplinary statistics to highlight the extent of the problem and where we should focus our attention. We will also continue to work with our referees so that they identify and report issues of racism.
We will continue to provide coach education bursaries, working with organisations like Crawley Game Changers, to provide quality coaching education to our diverse communities. We recognise there are barriers (real and perceived) around football and we will work hard to remove these.
We will aim to continue to organise various events that aim to tackle racism and promote inclusion in football. Before COVID-19, we planned to organise an inter-faith tournament at our Culver Road headquarters, and also proposed events and networks based on equality. We will continue to do these for next season. We also welcome any ideas for other areas we need to focus on.
This statement outlines our intention to remain committed to eliminating discrimination and racism from the game and we will continue our endeavours to work harder to remove the systemic barriers for those who watch and support the game and our players, coaches, volunteers and employees to tackle racism, to make ‘Football For All’.
For further information about our equality and inclusion work, or to apply to join our IAG, please contact Development:
T: 01903 766855