Kick It (racism) Out – easier with more than 7 people?

Earlier this week we were fortunate enough to have Kevin Coleman from the Kick It Out organisation speak to us at University.

As an avid football fan and regular attendee for the last 10 years or so, I have noticed their campaigns on numerous occasions, although I can’t deny I’ve often wondered how they measure success, something that wasn’t really answered in his talk.

What surprised me most of all however, was when it was revealed that there are just seven employees for the whole organisation. Seven people run the biggest campaign in English football – the muti-million pound industry. The organisation gets funding from the Football Association, the Premier League and the PFA (Players Football Association).

So, to put this into context, seven people are there to fight against all forms of abuse in our national sport, when it is widely accepted that there are serious issues to be faced. This isn’t just at Millwall or Cardiff either who are often tarred with being problematic clubs. The realistic view is that nearly all clubs have minorities who cause problems – some just get more attention than others. Only a few weeks ago Chelsea fans were singing Islamaphonic songs towards Aston Villa fans amid scences of violence outside Villa Park in Birmingham – it was barely reported.

I asked Kevin about the differences between stewards around the country and what Kick It Out did to help them. Given this is the case, I wonder how Kevin and his colleagues gets time to sleep.

He said that the idea is that every steward in the country receives training from Kick It Out. That’s an awful lot of people to train. In any event Kevin conceded that two stewards will deal with the same incident in very different ways. The 18 year old student who is doing it for a bit more pocket money, may not want to involve himself with six burly away fans who are shouting racial abuse whilst a hardened 40 year old fearless steward may step in and face a bit of physicality but be determined to see the people ejected or arrested. The discrepancy no doubt needs addressing for the matter to be dealt with seriously.

It’s not just professional football the organisation is supposed to help either. Kevin spoke of dealing with incidents as remote as Sunday League football in Middlesbrough where an Asian team, the only one in the area, were receiving abuse on a weekly basis and Kevin in his role as looking after non professional football had to try and deal with the issue.

Quite how we can have a situation where just the resources of seven people are given this responsibility in an age where a team gets £10m prize money for being 20th in the Premier League seems disgraceful. On the other hand, credit to those who work for Kick It Out for giving the impression the organisation is huge and has incredible resources. The reality, is they rely on the good will of professionals, free advertising and support from local communities.

Kevin alluded to a 65 year old white male dominance in the FA ‘not doing enough’ and at face value I found it hard to disagree with the sentiment.

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