News story

Prime Minister's article on tackling discrimination in football

"I'm bringing together leading figures from right across the game to reaffirm our vigilance against racism and all forms of discrimination"

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister David Cameron has written an article in The Sun newspaper, describing his commitment to address discrimination football.

The Prime Minister wrote:

“There was a time when football in our country was badly infected with racism.

It took great effort from everyone involved in the game to kick it out. It’s an achievement not every country has managed to make.

And I’m proud that Britain did it.

But recently racism has come back into the spotlight with cases involving some of the most famous players in football, one of which has led to the resignation of the England manager. We simply cannot brush this under the carpet. I’ve no doubt that football will crack this problem – and the Government stands ready to do anything it can to help.

That’s why today in Downing Street I’m bringing together leading figures from right across the game to reaffirm our vigilance against racism – and all forms of discrimination.

I am absolutely clear: we will not let recent events drag us back to the bad old days of the past.

One important part of winning the battle against discrimination is to get more black and minority ethnic people making it as coaches and managers at the top of the game.

So the Government is going to help fund St George’s Park, the new national centre that’s going to train the next generation of coaches.

Which, combined with the football authorities’ new COACH bursary programme, will help coaches from black and minority ethnic groups. And just as it is completely unacceptable that people should suffer abuse because of the colour of their skin, so it is also completely wrong that people should be targeted because of their sexuality.

Our Charter to Tackle Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport has now been signed by the FA, by every Premier League club and now also the Football League.

And we are determined to use what we have learnt from tackling racism in the past to address all forms of discrimination in the game.

Why does all this matter so much? Because football isn’t just a great sport. It has an enormous influence on young people right across our country.

Taking my son to see Aston Villa play for the first time this season was a wonderful moment for me – and one that I hope he will treasure too.

But like every other parent, I want to be sure that when my children see their sporting heroes play, they aren’t let down by foul, racist or violent behaviour on or off the pitch. Footballers can be great role models who the public admire. The power of sport – and sporting personalities – to do good is immense.

But it can also go the other way. If children see bad behaviour on the television or at the stadium, they may copy it and reproduce it in the playground.

Everyone knows from watching their children play that they can copy what they see on the TV.

So much about football makes us great as a nation: fantastic clubs, brilliant players, matches that are televised around the globe, and a league that is the envy of the world and where all the top players want to play.

It’s part of who we are, what we believe and what we are best at.

And I want it to stay that way.”

Published 22 February 2012