Recently the success of the Kick it Out anti-racism campaign has been called into question by top Premier League players.
The refusal of Rio Ferdinand, Jason Roberts and many other players to don Kick it Out t-shirts during pre-match warm up was said to illustrate their disillusion at the level of action the campaign has taken.
However, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson staunchly defended the campaign and claimed that “all players should stay united” behind Kick it Out in order to reinforce the message.
This was supported by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who suggested that if black players did not support Kick it Out, it would make the campaign less credible.
The success of the campaign, since its inception in 1993, should not be ignored in the light of high-profile racism incidents such as the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases.
Launched by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Professional Footballers Association, the campaign initially generated a “10-point plan” for professional football clubs to challenge racism.
In 2001, then with backing of the FA and the Premier League, Kick it Out launched its first week of action, during which they aimed to raise awareness of racial issues throughout the game.
Blackburn Rovers became the first club to achieve Kick it Out’s Equality standard in 2005. The plan, intended to achieve an acceptable level of discrimination awareness across all football league clubs, identified religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and disability as areas which clubs must access.
Now approaching it’s twentieth year, the campaign has been involved with a number of other campaigns including launching a ground-breaking homophobia film with the FA and backing ‘The Y-word’ a film made by comedian David Baddiel about anti-semitism in football.
Former Liverpool player and Kick it Out activist John Barnes recently defended the campaign and claimed that Ferdinand and Roberts should direct their unhappiness regarding recent cases towards the FA, rather than target the campaign which had achieved so much in the last few years.
While cases of racism in football are still evident, it is reasonable to claim that footballers such as Ferdinand would do better not focusing their dissatisfaction against such a positive campaign.
In 2008, Viv Anderson celebrated his 30th anniversary as the first ever black England player, it is the hope of this reporter that through the work of campaigns such as Kick it Out there will be many other landmarks to celebrate in the coming years.
For more info on Kick it Out head to: www.kickitout.org
Edited by Nickta Rowaichi