Chapter 1

Understanding inequality

Learn about inequality and how it plays out in football clubs.

Illustrated football team in a huddle.

Football clubs are so much more than a place to play the beautiful game. They build bridges between communities, empower people through sport, and give fans a dose of excitement on match days.

But not everyone has equal access to playing or watching football, or working in the industry; barriers can be hidden in plain sight, overlooked by clubs and fans, leading to a less diverse and unequal game.

Understanding inequality is the first step towards building a diverse and inclusive future for football. You’ll need to explore the research and hear the perspectives of multiple diverse groups to truly drive equality. We explore this further in Chapter 2.

You might start with the Equality Act 2010 to guide your research. The nine qualities below are protected under this bill and discrimination against each one is unlawful:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

But inequality can extend much further than these legally protected characteristics. It’s therefore important to think beyond guidance in the Equality Act to truly understand inequality, and actively combat it.

For instance, people can also experience discrimination based on their socioeconomic background or neurodivergence. Let’s contextualise this with an example. Every team needs a football kit, but some players will face more obstacles accessing one than others:

  • Players with certain beliefs might need to cover specific parts of their body while playing
  • Players who are trans might wish to use chest binding underneath their kit
  • Players from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds may not be able to afford or replace their kit
  • Players with certain disabilities might need modifications to the kit before they can use it
  • Players who menstruate may appreciate darker coloured shorts for more coverage

In order to foster true equality, we need to consider these types of characteristics and include alternative perspectives at every level of the game. We’ll explore how you can do this in the next chapter.

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