As the governing body for grassroots football across the nation’s capital, London FA is dedicated to tackling racial discrimination, in all its forms, from our local game.
Like so many organisations, high-profile incidents of racial injustice over the last two years resulted in London FA asking the question: what can we do to ensure that no member of our community is discriminated against, or that if they are, how do we as an organisation do everything within our power to address it?
Today, London FA seeks to deliver the answer to that question, as we release our Racial Equality Action Plan.
Our Racial Equality Action Plan is the product of an in-depth, extensive and independent consultation, commissioned by London FA and funded by The FA over the summer of 2021, which engaged with members from ethnically diverse backgrounds across our grassroots football community.
The report, which can be read in full by clicking here, provided London FA with some hard-hitting truths relating to people’s experiences of playing, watching, officiating and volunteering within grassroots football in London. The report confirmed what London FA had suspected, which was that unfortunately instances of racism in grassroots football in London do occur. These were not just overt but could also manifest themselves in more subtle and unconscious ways. The report also highlighted a lack of awareness and confidence in the reporting and management of discrimination cases.
Thanks to the honesty and bravery of those the consultation engaged with, London FA has been able to create an action plan which directly addresses the issues highlighted in the report. The full Racial Equality Action Plan can be accessed by clicking here and it can be summarised as follows:
Following significant reforms to its Board and Council as part of the FA’s Governance Code for County FAs, London FA will dedicate itself to increasing the diversity of both our coaching and refereeing workforce, to ensure it is as diverse as the capital city itself. It will also deliver several projects across London that uses football as a tool to foster better relationships between many diverse ethnic minority groups.
- Training and Development
London FA is to develop and deliver an annual continued professional development (CPD) programme which focuses on supporting referees to manage discrimination. This will be accompanied by a programme of training, focusing on unconscious bias and discrimination awareness, which will be delivered to London FA’s affiliated clubs and leagues.
Greater communication will be delivered through ‘League and Clubs Roadshows’, which will promote our Racial Equality Action Plan and highlight what clubs and leagues can do to join us in tackling discrimination. London FA’s Racial Equality Action Plan will also be at the forefront of a media campaign to ensure that all participants are aware of the aims of our plan and educated as to the repercussions of any party charged with racist behaviour.
- Football Disciplinary
London FA will be working with its clubs to sign the grassroots Football Leadership Diversity Code. Crucially, we have reviewed and invested in our football disciplinary processes to directly address racial discrimination, to ensure that those reporting any incidents have more confidence in the manner with which their reports will be handled. London FA will create and deliver a support package for victims of discrimination and all cases will be tracked through a single channel to better monitor and respond to emerging discrimination trends. This revised discipline and reporting process will be communicated widely to all clubs and leagues on a constant basis.
Paul Bickerton, Chief Executive Officer of London FA, said: "I would like to place on record my thanks to the members of our football community who participated in the consultation. Listening to their advice and insight was a tremendous learning experience and has allowed us to set out a clear plan to drive long term, sustainable and impactful change in this vital area. Equality, diversity, and inclusion has always been at the heart of our strategy, but this plan now takes us a step further and is accompanied by a significant financial investment from London FA and The FA to make this happen."
Mervyn Lyn, London FA’s Inclusion Advisory Chair, added: "Joining the London FA was a real leap of faith for me, having spent my entire working life in the music industry/ business. My belief in London FA was based on them not just talking about making a difference but rolling up their sleeves and tackling the issue of racial discrimination full on. With this plan, that leap of faith has been justified. I couldn't be prouder and more excited to bring this plan to life and to start helping make involvement in grassroots football in our capital what it was always meant to be, a fun loving, inclusive and diverse environment, as we seek to kick the spectre racism into touch."
Paul Elliott CBE, Chair of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board and former player for Chelsea, Charlton Athletic and the London FA Representative Team, said: "Whilst you have racism in society, in my view alas it may always be prevalent in football. However, the Football Association are continuing to evolve as an organisation and determined to positively lead in this area as a National Governing Body. The London FA, by recognising and acknowledging the ongoing challenges, have been proactive in setting the example of how important it is to embed Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in its organisational values. That the roots of its diverse communities is now far better represented throughout its staff team, Council and Board team is a great start and provides the foundation for the delivery of this exciting plan."
Should you witness or experience any incident of racial discrimination in grassroots football across London, please click here to report it to London FA.