Spreading the message to fans
We explain how you can bring fans along with you on your journey to equality.
A football club needs its fans, and those fans need your support and guidance as you build a more equitable club.
Football equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out recently issued a report on how discrimination unfolds in UK clubs. It found that fan-on-player abuse accounts for two fifths of all incidents reported and fan-on-fan abuse for almost a third.
Where discrimination does happen, develop monitoring and reporting systems. Every club needs a baseline to build from and knowing yours will help you target your initiatives.
Consider providing an education programme (like this one by Kick It Out) for fans that have been reported. Instead of excluding them, invite them to learn so that they might be welcome at the grounds again one day.
According to Maggie, clubs must set the tone for fans from the start. At Lewes FC, the first thing fans see when they walk through the turnstiles is a sign for breastfeeding facilities. Artwork throughout the ground shows LGBTQ+ relationships and fans with disabilities have clear access all the way around the pitch.
By fusing your culture with your ground, you can show fans your ethos without saying a word. Make it obvious in the decoration and design of the site that it’s a place where everyone is welcome. If you have men’s and women’s teams, make sure they’re both represented in your marketing and branding.
It’s also important to show accountability and take ownership of what else needs adapting. Publish your reports and strategies to show what’s changing and what still needs to be changed. Host meetings where fans can ask questions and share opinions.
Also consider how you can put people unfamiliar with the environment at ease. “It’s not always enough to open the door,” Maggie says. “You need to reach out and show people they’re welcome.”
Maggie continues: “Over the years we’ve visited countless local organisations, including the Women’s Institute, to tell them about the club and show them they’re welcome here. Our match day attendance has gone up, not least by targeting traditionally ‘unwelcome women’ - a demographic not always considered by football clubs!"
How to foster equality in football
In this guide, we explore how you can foster equality at every level of your football club.
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