Players and managers
The support of players and managers is crucial to the success of Kick It Out.
With millions of football fans across the world looking up to the example set by their heroes, their words and actions can have a profound impact in promoting messages central to the campaign.
Historically, pioneering figures such as Viv Anderson, Cyrille Regis, Luther Blissett, Ian Wright, John Barnes, Eric Cantona and Sir Alex Ferguson have given their backing to Kick It Out, and this has been carried on by their current counterparts.
With the help of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the League Managers Association (LMA), players and managers endorse the organisation all-year round by attending coaching masterclasses, educational workshops, prison forums, award ceremonies and panel discussions.
The messages they convey have a very real and usually instant impact, particularly in school and community settings. Being given the opportunity to meet ambassadors is often a unique experience for young people and an informative and enlightening one for older groups.
There have been particular challenges which have arisen, with individual players more recently showing their discontent at what they believe to be a lack of progress in tackling racism and all forms of discrimination.
These concerns have always been listened to, respected and acknowledged, and Kick It Out has taken positive steps towards addressing this by employing former Charlton Athletic midfielder Paul Mortimer as the campaign’s Professional Player Engagement Manager.
Helping to educate the future generation of professional footballers on issues including stereotyping and prejudiced attitudes within the game is a key element of the Kick It Out’s remit.
Working in conjunction with the League Football Education (LFE), Kick It Out delivers equality and diversity training workshops to English Football League (EFL) scholars across the country.
To help reinforce these messages, the campaign launched its ‘Next 20’ initiative in October 2013. The programme aims to champion 20 young football stars across the Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League (WSL).
One topic concerning managers which has caused a stir is the potential creation of an English football equivalent of the Rooney Rule, instilled in America’s National Football League (NFL) to address the lack of ethnic minority presence in coaching and management positions.
Kick It Out continues to encourage debate around this area and has taken part in numerous live forums and television and radio programmes which look into the introduction of such a system.
In June 2016, EFL clubs voted in changes to their recruitment practices to address the under-representation of qualified Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) coaches at Academy and first-team club level. Click here for the organisation’s statement on the matter.