Discrimination in football initiative

An educational approach to tackle adverse behaviours in football 

Leagues, Clubs, Coaches and Referees in Leicestershire and Rutland are being invited to attend an educational course which is designed to highlight the link between an aggravated breach under FA Rules and Hate Crime.   

Leicestershire and Rutland County FA (LRCFA) and Leicestershire Police have been working together to put together a ground-breaking approach to educate the football community that some adverse, inappropriate, and discriminatory behaviours in football could also be treated as a crime.

Jamie Clarke, Football Services Lead at LRCFA said, “Over the last 12 months we have been working in close consultation with Leicestershire Police to review incidents that have happened and design an education process to highlight that actions taken in a football setting could also be an act of criminality. We are able to take this stance by creating a dual reporting process that lets us share information with the police should the reporter of the incident give consent. While we have always investigated every allegation reported to us, this takes the level of action able to be taken to another level. We also hope the education course helps to teach people that things they hear and see are not “just what happens in football” but should be reported so appropriate action can be taken by both organisations.”

The educational course has been developed by utilising likeminded partners, focus groups and key stakeholders including the Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG). All have been able to provide a range of experiences, real life examples that include both the extreme and of incidents that people may witness often but were not aware should be reported.

Isla Dixon, Hate Crime Officer, Leicestershire Police said, “I am incredibly proud to have been part of this initiative from its inception, working closely with colleagues from Leicestershire and Rutland County FA.  Using existing educational resources, and my personal experience of working with victims of discrimination, I have been able to support the creation of an educational resource which can be utilised with Leicestershire and Rutland County FA to aid clubs, leagues and referees to address inappropriate behaviour and language.  I am looking forward to supporting LRCFA in its delivery and to continue to develop, and strengthen, our partnership going forward.”

Initially Clubs, Leagues and Referees will be offered a chance to sit on one of two dates coming up over the next few weeks. After this, clubs and leagues will be offered the opportunity to take the course back to their own settings as well as having it made available for Disciplinary panels to issue in proven cases.

Surinder Sharma, Chair of LRCFA and IAG, said, “This collaboration is a fantastic approach to addressing a very topical issue of discriminatory behaviours in not only football but society as well. We hope that it acts as a deterrent and makes people think twice about their actions but also gives people confidence to report things that they see and hear. Together we can all create the best possible environment for all in football in our diverse county”.

All of this is part of the evolution of the Disciplinary processes at LRCFA this season.

  • There is now the possibility to report incidents using a dedicate online reporting form. This form is easier to share with witnesses and has led to a quicker investigation process.
  • Victims of Discriminatory abuse are now offered support through the FA’s partnership with Sporting Chance. This completely free support is provided quickly, locally and to the level required irrespective of a charge being raised.
  • All Disciplinary hearing are now online, allowing a quicker and more convenient process for all involved.
The panels organised by LRCFA will now consist of commission members from not only our county but from a pool of 6 others, allowing for greater impartiality, more specialisms, and quicker hearings.