Greetings, Sat Sri Akal, Namaste, As-Salaam Alaikum.
This weekend, many of us from the Asian community and beyond will mark Diwali and Bandhi Chor Divas. The symbolism of Diwali and Bandhi Chor emanating from Hinduism and Sikhi respectively (and also celebrated by some Jains and Buddhists) signifies the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
It feels particularly important to reiterate how the FA sees its role within diverse communities and its role in supporting them across the country given recent events.
Greg Clarke stepped down from his role as FA Chairman on Tuesday afternoon closely followed by his roles at UEFA and FIFA, acknowledging that some of his words in the DCMS Select Committee hearing were unacceptable and offensive.
As our CEO Mark Bullingham acknowledged earlier this week, we respect his decision and are clear that his words do not reflect the views of our people or the organisation we are today.
We are committed to playing a lead role in actively enhancing equality and diversity across English football, whilst challenging and tackling all forms of discrimination and working to redress historical exclusion.
As with many organisations in this country, we are on a journey and have made substantial progress in this area, including:-
• Phase two of our Asian inclusion strategy, Bringing Opportunities to Communities, launched in 2019. This firmly outlines our commitment to engaging with Asian communities to enhance representation across the game from playing to coaching, officiating, governing and leading across football.
• Our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, In Pursuit of Progress, has helped us to create a more inclusive organisation and make English football more diverse as a whole
• Our County FA Code of Governance - a new regional code which aims to provide support and guidance to CFAs running the grassroots game up and down the country. The code outlines specific diversity provisions (across ethnicity, disability, gender etc.) to ensure CFAs are providing the best possible service to the game at a local level and to all communities.
• Our Football Leadership Diversity Code will drive change throughout the game through increased focus on transparency and accountability, increasing the ethnic and gender diversity of those in leadership positions, decision making roles and coaching setups.
• We have consistently reduced our gender pay gap, which is the smallest of any major sporting governing body in England, as well having a minimal ethnicity pay gap.
• We are investing record amounts in the women’s game, which remains one of our top priorities and released our updated strategy for women’s and girls’ football called Inspiring Positive Change.
Despite our progress, we accept that we have much more to do and I am an example of somebody from the Asian community, a historically under-represented group in football, who is committed to driving things forward and pushing the boundaries.
My ask of you is to take heart that things are changing. We must continue to push our views and be heard regardless of our backgrounds, faiths or any other characteristics. Now is the time to galvanise our spirit and move forward.
Football has the power to unite and bring people together. As you settle down this weekend to mark Diwali and Bandhi Chor Divas, the symbol of hope over despair, please do remember that we are committed to helping improve lives, embrace diversity and create opportunities For All.
Wishing you a peaceful Diwali & Bandhi Chor Divas to those of you who are celebrating.