Statement of Intent
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
“The Professional Footballers Association has a zero tolerance policy in all areas of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice. This includes all forms of racism including Xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, bigotry by way of homophobia and homophobic attitudes and discrimination on the grounds of gender and disability including mental health. We support inclusion in all areas of the game and are working towards an equal playing field for all.”
Equality is an integral part of the Professional Footballers Association and we are constantly working towards an equal playing field in football. With six strands of equality to work toward, there are many challenges and barriers before we reach our goal. Age, Disability, Faith, Gender , Race, Sexuality are the areas encompassing equality and each has objectives to be met. The PFA membership comprises professional footballers, who have signed a Professional Playing contract.
As the players union, the issue of equality is embedded in all that we do. We are proud of the historical work that we have done regarding tackling the issue of racism on the terraces, in response to the abuse suffered by black players in the late Seventies and Eighties. The Kick Racism out of Football campaign (KIO) was founded by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Professional Footballers Association. Since it was formed in 1992 it has made significant progress and racism is no longer accepted as part of the match experience.
Whilst we have come a long way from those days of overt racism on the terraces towards players, the issue of racism has not gone away. To this end, we work closely with Kick It Out and fellow campaigning group Show Racism the Red Card using players in their capacity to educate and inspire. As well as this, we educate young players about issues on Equality and Diversity, in partnership with the Premier League and are proud that the training received Outstanding in a recent OFSTED inspection. Both Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card have expanded their criteria to include a range of equality issues, and the PFA are working with them to insure greater inclusion across the board.
The issue of Diversity and Equality goes beyond racism and addresses other forms of exclusion – all of which the PFA take seriously. UEFA recently held a seminar on Institutional Discrimination in Football – particularly focusing on Women and Ethnic Minorities. We applaud the fact that they are raising awareness on this regard as we have been challenging this for some time. We have been working within the women’s game since 2000 when we had our first female members, and we are proud that the England Senior squad are also PFA members. As the women’s game escalates ( The Women’s Super League is launching in April 2011), we look forward to more female members joining our ranks.
In 2003 we formed the Black Coaches Forum – addressing the under-representation of black players in coaching and management in our game. We shall continue to press forward with this issue at every level of the game including ensuring a greater mass of qualified black coaches, clear and accessible criteria for coaching qualifications and addressing current recruitment procedures. We need a greater representation of our membership across the game – not just players but coaches, managers, physio’s, doctors, educators, administrators and at Board Level. We also need a greater proportion of the UK’s demographic playing professional football as this is not currently representative in the game.
Homophobia and LGBT issues in general are not representative across the game, particularly not in the professional game. The PFA are aware of this and we are working to ensure the issue of homophobia is addressed. This is as much about education, and creating an environment where people are accepting of gay people, as it is about a player or official “coming out”. Disability discrimination is another factor the game is working to address. Disabled people should be able to enjoy a match experience as much as an able-bodied person. Football stadiums, in the main are not as accessible as they could be and disabled football fans are being excluded because of this. Disability can range from sight or sound impediments, mental health issues, wheel-chair users, blood or chromosome disorders – every person is different – even if they have the same disability. To reach equality we need to treat people differently to make them equal.