Culture, Media and Sport Committee - Racism in FootballWritten evidence submitted by the Premier League

The Premier League welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the Select Committee for its review of racism in football and is happy to follow up on any specific areas that the Committee might wish to pursue.


1. The Premier League organises the top division of football in England with the 20 Clubs in membership of the League at any one time being the shareholders. Football Clubs in England are independent entities operating autonomously within the law of the land and the rules of football. The Premier League is the competition organiser, operates as the trade association for the Clubs, and seeks to encourage best practice across a wide range of Club activities, including those seeking to combat discrimination in all its forms. The Clubs themselves are the employers of players, coaching staff, administrative staff, and those involved in match-day operations. The Clubs are also responsible for their training centres, typically young people aged between 12 and 18 years-old. Each Club runs community programmes with extensive activity involving their local communities, often in partnership with local authorities, other public agencies and voluntary organisations.

2. The Premier League has been involved in anti-racism activities since its inception in 1992, notably in backing the formation of Kick it Out jointly with the PFA during the first season of the competition. This season a small number of high profile moments at Premier League matches, and the subsequent response to them, has led to a highlighting of issues around race and football. In addition, a small number of players and former players have been racially abused by members of the public on Twitter. There has been extensive coverage of this in the media, itself tending to increase concerns that racism still exists within the game. However, Premier League Clubs have led the way in addressing racism both within the sport and in wider society for many years and have continued to work with fans, players, trainees, Club staff, stewards, and local communities to promote a wider understanding of issues around race and cultural diversity.

3. Whilst the events at matches appear to be isolated it is clear from the reactions from the media and fans that:

(a)there is a perception that racism is still a problem, a view more likely to held by those who are not regular attenders at matches according to our research among attending and non-attending fans; and

(b)some people see Twitter and other online outlets as uncensored environments not subject to normal social or legal standards of behaviour.

4. The Premier League takes these issues extremely seriously and has put in place a series of measures to deal with them. In addition to the robust processes that are in place to deal with racism at matches, we have for some time been working on a new approach to tackle the more recent development of abuse on social media sites. We are in discussions with the police and with high profile social media outlets about a joint campaign to address hateful language and abuse relating to football.

Hate Crime Statistics

5. The majority of prosecutions for hate crime in the UK are taken against white men aged between 18 and 31. Between 2006 and 2010, 79% of hate crime defendants were identified as white, and 50% were aged between 25 and 59 and 30% were aged 18–24. This demographic is similar to that of the football-attending public, and therefore football has a significant “risk” group as far as hate crime is concerned.

Diversity of Attending Fans

6. Our most recent fan survey revealed that 23% of attending fans are female, as are 37% of non-attending fans. 11% of attending fans are BAME—compared to 8% of the general population. The Football Nation Survey this season also revealed that 49% of BAME adults are interested in football, rising from 42% in 2009–10. The research suggests that around 44% of BAME male adults follow a Premier League Club, compared to 33% of white males.

Football Arrests

7. The most recent Home Office statistics on football-related disorder indicate that arrests are at a record low. According to statistics published in December 2011, the number (3,089 across all levels of football for the 2010–11 season) is the lowest since records began in 1984–85. There are no arrests at all at over 70% of games. Last season there were 23 arrests made at or around Premier League grounds for indecent, including racist, chanting. This represents a tiny percentage of the 13.4 million individual attendances over the course of the season.

Current Measures in Place

8. Kick It Out. Kick it Out is football’s equality and inclusion campaign and has existed since 1993. The Premier League is Kick It Out’s core funder, with £170,000 of PL funding contributing to its work this season and has appointed a Trustee to its Board since its creation. Kick it Out encourages inclusive practices at all levels of football, running educational programmes that promote inclusion and challenge discrimination and working with our clubs and players to run a high profile annual campaign that showcases the diverse nature of English football.

Kick it Out also has a system that allows members of the public to report any discrimination they see or hear in any footballing environment, in complete confidence, via a hotline, or online. They encourage people to report any abuse they see on the internet, on Facebook or Twitter. All Clubs take part actively in Kick It Out’s annual week of action which is entitled “One Game, One Community” (actually a fortnight to ensure that it includes at least one home fixture for every Club) which involves promotion of anti-racism aims, awareness raising, celebrating the cultural diversity of Clubs and their fan bases, and educational events for the public.

9. Get on with the Game. “Get on with the Game” is the Premier League’s own initiative aimed at raising standards of behaviour on and off the pitch. Alongside a charter signed by Club chairmen, managers and captains stating their commitment to a code of behaviour, the initiative promotes a more positive attitude amongst fans. This year also saw the launch of a new website aimed at primary school children and teachers with a series of downloadable teaching packs covering issues such as bullying and cultural differences. The new website features interviews with match officials from the Premier League and a set of interactive on-line games with an educational theme. Top flight referees also work on the initiative, taking part in sessions at schools to promote the key elements of the project.

10. The Equality Standard. The Equality Standard is a policy framework for professional clubs to support the development of equality practices in all areas of a clubs operation. Working towards the standard ensures that equality is an integral part of the strategic planning and programme development of their business. It was developed by Kick It Out and the Premier League from source materials including the Sporting Equals document Achieving Racial Equality: A Standard for Sport. The Standard is based on three levels of achievement and covers three areas of action at each level. All three levels must be supported by the relevant evidence and are verified by an independent accreditation committee.

The areas of activity are classified within three areas of action:

The Stadium and Outreach: Ensuring the stadium and its environs are free of racism. Making efforts to increase levels of participation from ethnic minority communities at every level of activity—as fans, coaches, and young people within the academy and youth development centre.

Policy and Planning: Demonstrating commitment to promoting racial equality by producing and implementing a written equal opportunities policy and an equality action plan.

Administration and Management: Setting up clear procedures to deal with racial discrimination and inequality, seeking approval and involvement at the highest level, improving representation of people from ethnic minorities in the fields of administration and management.

11. Steward Training. The quality of stewarding is critical in ensuring that all fans are, and feel, welcome at Premier League matches. Stewards deployed at Premier League grounds are trained to a high level, and work in close tandem with police. Training is constantly being improved, and a new training package “On the Ball” was introduced this season and specifically deals with guidance for stewards on dealing with racist or homophobic abuse.

All Premier League Clubs undertake diversity training for staff as a core element of the Equality Standard. The Premier League’s “Open for Business” programme covers disability issues and currently includes an E-book with videos and other resources that showcase best practice and a new on-line training course for all front line staff will be launched in April. All clubs will be producing comprehensive Access Statements for Season 2012–13. A new staff training package will also be developed for Season 2012–13.

Under Premier League Ground Regulations racial, homophobic or discriminatory abuse, chanting or harassment is strictly forbidden and will result in arrest and/or ejection from the Ground. The Club may impose a ban for one or more Matches.

The PL will review the implementation of existing steward training programmes to make sure that the very clear and thorough guidelines on racism and other “hate” offences are fully applied in each ground. This review will include looking at sanctions (from warnings to ejections, bans from grounds to seeking intervention by the statutory authorities) and their consistent application.

12. Education of young players. All of our Clubs run specific modules around cultural awareness and equality, which are created by Kick It Out, for their young players in their academies or centres of excellence. Ofsted recently inspected the Premier League Clubs’ education provisions, finding them to be Grade 1—“Outstanding”. They specifically highlighted this area, saying: “The promotion of equality and diversity is outstanding. A strong emphasis on actively combating discrimination is supported by all clubs and learners. Rates of recruitment of learners from traditionally under-represented groups are high and all groups achieve well. The PL fosters and ensures a very strong culture of respect. Equality and diversity publications are particularly good. Staff and learners have a high awareness of equality and diversity, reflected particularly well by the culture of respect found in all the clubs. Regular training for staff and learners is supported by a wide range of high quality materials. Learners are supportive of each other and respectful of different cultures. The PL leads in successful initiatives to combat racial discrimination and homophobia, and makes good use of inspirational role models. Managers take quick action to tackle potential problems. Strict anti-bullying and harassment procedures are in place and successfully implemented.”

13. Good practice in dealing with offences by attending fans. Clubs have introduced a variety of methods for reporting, monitoring and dealing with any unacceptable abuse. Fans can report to stewards or via text at the game, by phone or email after the match, or via Kick It Out. If fans report offences to stewards on the day, offences can be dealt with immediately. Some offenders are caught by proactive stewarding and CCTV to identify offenders as verification of events and identity can be difficult in the circumstances of a match itself. Reports are given to the police, and where there is evidence prosecutions can be brought. Where offences are reported post-match Clubs will typically use a number of methods to gather evidence and identify offenders: contacting those seated near the alleged offender; monitoring the area with CCTV at future matches; seating plain clothed stewards in the area to identify offences. These methods have proved to be successful and fans at Premier League football are fully aware that if they use racist or other unacceptable language they can expect to be ejected from the stadium, have their season ticket suspended or revoked, be banned from future matches and possibly have legal action taken against them.

14. Support for other anti-discrimination projects. In addition to Kick It Out the Premier League and its Clubs also fund other anti-discrimination organisations at national and local levels. Clubs run extensive discrimination workshops and education sessions as part of their work with young people and adults in their areas. Many Clubs’ community departments run programmes for schools in their communities aimed at educating youngsters about racism and other forms of discrimination. Schools and youth groups often turn to our Clubs and to football in general to help them address difficult issues involving racism. We also look to support organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card, who have 15 years’ experience in the field and who use football clubs and players to help educate young people, teachers and parents about racism and discrimination, specifically targeting those areas of the country where these is a proven rise in issues around racial tension. The Premier League issued a grant of £25,000 to the organisation to work on this particular programme in December 2011.

A similar grant was issued to the Jason Roberts Foundation. Jason is a current football player at Reading FC who has set up a charity to deliver sporting, cultural and educational activities in parts of the UK and Grenada. The funding supports a health and fitness programme in Brent that conveys the benefits of a strong family unit. 55% of Brent residents are from a BAME community in a borough that is ranked 53rd most deprived borough in England.

The Premier League also works in partnership with Sport Relief to provide free educational resources to all primary and secondary schools. The resources focus on providing learning plans for curriculum teaching sessions and encouraging fun inclusive participation in sport.

The Premier League provides specific football opportunities for girls as well through a pilot project in partnership with Nike. Clubs are being funded to run sessions that engage teenage girls to try and address the participation drop off trend that has been identified by Sport England.

15. Premier League Community Programmes. The Premier League and Club community departments integrate anti-discrimination across their full range of activities. With most clubs located in areas of urban deprivation with above-average proportions of minority populations, Club community programmes generally achieve high levels of BAME participation—in fact across all of the Clubs’ different programmes (covering education, health, sports participation and social cohesion) in the 2010–11 season Premier League Community Schemes worked with over 450,000 people with 27% of participants being BAME in origin and 32% of participants were female. Below are some example projects from across the clubs:

16. Kickz is a nationwide project, funded primarily by the Premier League but also by the Metropolitan Police and other police forces. It sees clubs work with their local police to deliver high quality football and other sporting and cultural sessions three times a week, 48 weeks a year, in areas of particularly high disadvantage and at times when there are generally incidents of petty crime and anti-social behaviour. 112 Kickz projects are run by over 40 professional clubs and since 2006 it has engaged with 57,640 young people. Approximately 50% of participants are BAME in origin, although individual projects reflect local demographics so this figure is higher in certain areas. Kickz projects are designed to appeal to these groups, recruitment is often targeted on the excluded and disadvantaged, and staff are trained accordingly. The community staff are themselves from a wide range of diverse backgrounds, often in keeping with the local population.

Kickz encourages young people from different, often close knit and rival communities to interact with neighbouring projects, helping improve relationships, awareness of different cultures, issues and minority groups. A negative incident (an altercation between players during a Kickz tournament) resulted in a piece of work being done by the Liverpool/Everton joint Kickz initiative and the project attached to Oldham Athletic, that highlighted precisely how Kickz can have an a positive impact on BAME communities.

The clubs and central team devised a joint leadership programme, including volunteering and the opportunity to gain qualifications, to encourage positive interaction between the groups. By taking the young people out of their comfort zone and talking openly and frankly about issues of diversity, they had the chance to experience difference and gain understanding of other minority groups. Both sets of young people learned the differences between each other’s cultures and discussed their faith and challenges to each other at length. The result was a group of young leaders who re-entered their communities with skills, training and most importantly different attitudes to diversity and other communities—knowledge that has subsequently been spread throughout their peer group.

It is not just the football either. Clubs run a 2012 legacy programme called Premier League 4 Sport that promotes participation in Olympic sports using the power of football to engage young people. Such has been the success of the programme that 39,000 young people have already been involved in trying out eight Olympic sports. The programme has bucked the trend for falling participation: 33% of all participants were female and 14% from a BAME background. The Bolton Premier League 4 Sport project supported the launch of a new judo club at the Ghosia Community Centre, which is part of the Ghosia mosque, as an example of its inclusivity.

17. Chelsea Foundation’s “Education through Football” project is funded by the Premier League/PFA Community Fund. It is primarily a literacy, history and citizenship primary school-based programme that works with 50 schools per year, delivering for 10 weeks in each school. The programme includes an anti-discrimination workshop which is delivered by Paul Canoville, Chelsea FC’s first black footballer. Paul shares his experiences and describes how racism and bullying must not be tolerated in football or wider society. 100% of teachers said the session contributed to pupil’s awareness of discrimination, minority community issues and the importance of education.

18. Blackburn Rovers’ Premier League Health project. A number of Premier League Health projects work with people who are not in education, training or employment and who are from a BAME origin. One example is Blackburn’s project which works in partnership with a number of agencies to engage with the high number of migrant groups in the area. The project ran a successful “Cup of Nations” tournament in October 2011 with the local branch of YMCA to support members of the refugee and asylum seeker communities, and raise money for the YCARE International East African Famine Appeal. The event attracted 93 men from a wide range of nationalities including Kurdistan, Iran, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Afghanistan and England and also provided health checks and signposting to local healthcare services.

New Measures

The Premier League is looking at the following new steps that will be of interest to the committee:

19. Player mentoring and coaching bursaries—the COACH programme will direct support to black players during their careers to encourage them to look to coaching once their playing days are over; this would feed interested BME players with coaching aptitude into relevant courses; the PL will fully support this programme and is examining how mentoring and other support to can encourage the development of a pool of qualified and experienced BAME coaches well able to compete for permanent positions. Collectively, the Football Authorities are investing £80k per year over the next three years, a total investment of £240k to develop and support individuals. The bursary is seeking to support those with at least a Level 2 qualification and who are aspiring to higher levels of coaching and are committed to following through a programme of work for a season.

20. Review of the existing curriculum for young players in training at Premier League-funded academies and centres of excellence to ensure that cultural and diversity issues are delivered effectively. We will also look to review training and induction needs for players recruited from abroad.

21. Build on the existing Get on with the Game (GOWTG) initiative to ensure that managers, Club captains, PFA reps, other senior player and match officials understand and fully endorse the GOWTG philosophy and programme. This will be addressed at already planned meetings with managers, club captains and match officials.

22. Review of existing steward training programmes to make sure that the very clear and thorough guidelines on racism and other “hate” offences are fully applied in each ground. This review to include looking at sanctions (from warnings to ejections, bans from grounds to seeking intervention by the statutory authorities) and their consistent application.

23. Assess whether education programmes such as those provided by Show Racism the Red Card could be useful for fans who have committed minor offences, in particular for young offenders. Such an approach could be used instead of or alongside club bans.

24. Work with social media outlets and Police e-crime units to improve the way racism and other grossly offensive language online is identified and dealt with.

25. Expand the GOWTG initiatives with fans to raise awareness, build support and improve peer-policing (the most effective kind) around unacceptable behaviour.

26. Work with partners receiving PL funding—PFA, Football Supporters Federation, Supporters Direct, KIO, Level Playing Field etc—to co-ordinate positive messages to their constituent members. For example the PFA player education programme may be something we can support, while the FSF fan network should also be mobilised.

March 2012

Prepared 18th September 2012