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Fans for Diversity: Helping EFL clubs promote inclusivity

In August the EFL launched its new equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy ‘Together’, which aims to make the league and its clubs more reflective and representative of the communities which they serve.

Our Fans for Diversity campaign, run in partnership with Kick It Out, has been helping the EFL shape this new strategy while promoting the fans’ perspective.

“We’ve been heavily involved alongside Kick It Out and been key partners in creating this,” says Anwar Uddin, head of the Fans for Diversity campaign. “All clubs need guidance – the big and the small – so hopefully this will create a central standard that will help clubs up and down the EFL.”

The EFL’s new strategy covers diversity on and off the pitch, giving clubs a framework to work within over the next five years.

“The EFL and its clubs have been really supportive of the Fans for Diversity campaign so it’s only right we help them engage supporters,” Anwar said.

“It’s not a one-size fits all approach. We want to help clubs achieve the best with the budgets and resources they have.”

The ‘Together’ campaign, launched at The Valley in August, will feature on EFL shirt sleeves across the 2022-23 season.

David McArdle, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at the EFL, said: “The league will use its platform to challenge unwelcome behaviours and promote inclusive practices, to help drive change on the pitch, in club offices, in the stands and within the communities which clubs call home.”

Prayer rooms: more clubs providing peaceful spaces

Prayer rooms are a relatively new addition to English football grounds but the idea, to provide multi-faith space for free use, seems to be catching on.

The latest clubs to introduce the idea at their grounds are Sutton United and Oldham Athletic. Anwar attended the launch of the prayer room at Sutton United alongside Nujum Sports, who provide support to Muslim athletes.

“It’s something that I’ve talked to Muslim players about in the past,” Anwar says. “Until now it’s been very difficult to find a space to pray or meditate before a game so players often resort to doing it anywhere they can – referees’ rooms, the boot room or worse.

“If you need to pray, you need to pray so having a clean, dedicated space with privacy to do that is really important.”

As football clubs become more diverse – on the pitch, behind the scenes and even in the stands – clubs are showing they can adapt to the needs of modern football and its participants.

“These details matter,” Anwar said. “We have heard horror stories of people having to pray or meditate in busy, unclean places so going above and beyond, creating that space, for all different faiths – not just those of Muslim faith – can really make someone feel welcome in football.”

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