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Education work: Giving young fans a second chance

What started as informal work to help club staff in need is now being transformed into an impactful educational programme helping football fans across the country.

The Fans for Diversity campaign’s one-on-one educational work was initially run by Anwar Uddin as the campaign got off the ground, but is now recruiting a full time staff member to formalise and expand the work even further.

“It started when we had clubs approaching us, asking for advice on how to deal with fans who’ve maybe crossed the line,” Anwar said.

“Clubs were asking for our help after discriminatory incidents, considering banning fans or when they had fans coming back into the stadium after a ban.”

Via Anwar, the FSA and Kick It Out have been delivering one-on-one sessions with supporters who had come to a club’s attention following instances of discriminatory or anti-social behaviour.

Typically, Anwar meets supporters at the club’s stadium to talk about his experiences as one of the first professional Asian footballers in England and his work around diversity for Show Racism the Red Card, and now Fans for Diversity.

“Most of the fans we’ve had interventions with have been 14,1 6, 18 – that sort of age range,” Anwar said. “Fans who are often around anti-social behaviour or some sort of discriminatory behaviour but where the police or Criminal Justice System wouldn’t be appropriate.

“Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to learn. Speaking to them one-on-one gives us a chance to explain that racist or homophobic chanting is a hate crime.”

“Those types of insults or chants can have a real impact. The consequences can be severe – it’s about building that understanding with young supporters of what equality and diversity really is.”

Over the last 12 months, Anwar’s educational work has been incorporated into West Midlands Police’s ‘Onside’ project, a six-week course offered to young people caught offending at football instead of football banning orders and other punitive measures.

Fans for Diversity’s educational work has also attracted the interest of other police forces, as well as the Premier League, EFL and FA.

“It’s resonated so well because there was a void there, the support we’ve been offering has made a real difference,” Anwar says.

“It’s a good feeling that the expertise and knowledge we have is recognised by the whole football family.”

Fans For Diversity is a campaign programme run in partnership between the Football Supporters’ Association and Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation. Fans For Diversity encourages, funds and supports initiatives by fan groups to promote diversity and inclusion in football, and to challenge all forms of discrimination.

Image © PA Images

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball