I must start this update by acknowledging the recent events in the United States and the subsequent action in this country also demanding change.
Let’s be clear: we have an important role to play in driving discrimination out from both football and our society. This will be at the heart of our strategy for the next four years and beyond. As such we have confirmed to the media that we will not seek to take any action against players for simply taking the knee in matches. We understand their position and are supportive of it.
Our game is for everyone, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, faith and any background. We know football has an unparalleled ability to act as a force for good, to help break down barriers and stand firmly against discrimination.
We have a real opportunity to make a difference and an obligation to do what we can. It’s important to be critical of incidents abroad, such as the unbelievable racism our players and support team faced in Bulgaria. However, we acknowledged then – and acknowledge now – that we still have much to do in this country.
We can only put that right by pledging to do better in future, and recognising how unequal our world has been. We are committed to a more diverse workforce overall, and particularly in our leadership positions.
This is not tokenism, but because it’s both the right thing to do and will make us better at what we do. Our national stadium sits in the most diverse borough in England so there is no excuse for our workforce to not become more representative of its surroundings.
— The FA (@FA) June 5, 2020
Paul Elliott, the chair of our Inclusion Advisory Board, has written some personal words today that give a powerful perspective on where we find ourselves. You can read them here. I was particularly struck by his reference to the togetherness in adversity from different communities that suggests potentially a more optimistic future.
Back in January, we welcomed to Wembley a group of 30 students linked to the Black Collective for Media in Sport. They are gaining journalism experience around FA events and England matches as we work towards the EUROs. Wherever possible, we owe it to young people to provide them with opportunities like this and help them find a platform for their voice.
It is vital we lead by example to help shift the culture in wider society to one of inclusion. Much is happening to bring about positive change for all, but we know we can always do better.
On that note, June marks Pride Month – a period when people typically come together to celebrate and champion LGBTQ communities, as well as a time for reflection and education. To that end, I would strongly encourage you to read two important pieces published on TheFA.com this week.
In the first, our chief information officer, Craig Donald, explains how we’ve been working to make football an inclusive game for all. In the second, Jay Lemonius reflects on what Pride Month means to him as an FA staff member and as a grassroots player. You can read Craig’s piece here and Jay’s piece here.