Football supporters act as the cornerstone for the professional and non-league game in England. Fans of all clubs, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, faith, sexual orientation or any other identifying feature, should feel safe and welcome attending matches.
Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) jointly launched the ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign in March 2014, supported by the Premier League’s fans fund, to help target a number of fan initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion across the professional and non-league game.
Anwar Uddin was appointed as the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager in March 2014. Here, he gives an overview as to the delivery of the ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, and how Kick It Out and the FSF are looking to further engage with supporters across all levels of the game nationwide.
“I grew up in East London and supported West Ham United FC, visiting Upton Park since I was eight-years old. I was fortunate enough to play for the club over a six-year period as we won the FA Youth Cup in 1999. I went on to proudly represent a number of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Hereford, Barnet and Eastbourne Borough.
“When I was at Dagenham & Redbridge, I became the first British Asian to captain a side in the top four divisions of English football. After my playing career drew to a close, I began working for Show Racism the Red Card delivering anti-racism education to young people across the country. I also provided equality and diversity training to current senior players for the Professional Footballers’ Association and to Scholars with Kick It Out.
“For me, one of the great things about football is that it brings people together, thousands of people embracing the game and the team they love everywhere. We follow football in a country where everyone is different and we want to ensure that there are no barriers to anyone supporting their team. Fans are the heart and soul of our game and the biggest thing I miss about playing is the atmosphere that we as supporters bring to the stadium on a match-day.
“As Diversity and Campaigns Manager, I work on all forms of diversity from a supporters’ perspective. ‘Fans For Diversity’ is about bringing together fans to highlight diversity and to create an environment where fans feel safe and comfortable in supporting their team.
“It’s vital everybody across football is aware of all the different types of discrimination and the effects they can have. We work closely with all fans and relevant organisations to help challenge these issues as we aim to make football as inclusive as possible.
“The FSF’s 500,000 individual members and affiliated groups support a proactive stance on these issues, ensuring the FSF is both accessible to all groups and representative of football’s wide fan-base.
We empower fans, helping them to raise awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the game. We encourage and support events and activities that highlight fans working together to promote diversity. We’d love to hear from anyone who would like to support the work of Kick It Out and the FSF.
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