Leicestershire Police are teaming up with Leicestershire and Rutland County FA (LRCFA) to crack down on discrimination in football.
They have created a ground-breaking course to “educate the football community that adverse, inappropriate and discriminatory behaviours will not be tolerated – and could also be treated as a crime”.
“Developed by utilising like-minded partners, focus groups, key stakeholders and the Independent Advisory Group (IAG), the course provides a range of experiences and real-life examples that people have witnessed but were not reported,” said police.
Clubs, leagues and referees will be offered a chance to do it on one of two dates in the next few weeks.
And then clubs and leagues will be given the opportunity to take the course back to their own settings as well as having it made available for disciplinary panels to issue in proven cases.
Isla Dixon, Leicestershire Police’s dedicated hate crime officer, helped to develop the course.
“I am incredibly proud to have been part of this initiative from its inception, working closely with colleagues from Leicestershire and Rutland County FA.
“Using existing educational resources, and my personal experience of working with victims of discrimination, I have been able to support the creation of an educational resource which can be utilised with Leicestershire and Rutland County FA to aid clubs, leagues and referees to address inappropriate behaviour and language,” she said.
“I am looking forward to supporting LRCFA in its delivery and to continue to develop, and strengthen, our partnership going forward.”
Jamie Clarke, Football Services Lead at Leicestershire and Rutland County FA, said: “Over the last 12 months we have been working in close consultation with Leicestershire Police to review incidents that have happened and design an education process to highlight that actions taken in a football setting could also be an act of criminality.
“We are able to take this stance by creating a dual reporting process that lets us share information with the police should the reporter of the incident give consent.
“While we have always investigated every allegation reported to us, this takes the level of action able to be taken to another level,” added Jamie.
“We also hope the education course helps to teach people that things they hear and see are not ‘just what happens in football’ but should be reported so appropriate action can be taken by both organisations.”
Surinder Sharma, Chair of Leicestershire and Rutland County FA and the Independent Advisory Group, said: “This collaboration is a fantastic approach to addressing a very topical issue of discriminatory behaviours in not only football but society as well.
“We hope that it acts as a deterrent and makes people think twice about their actions but also gives people confidence to report things that they see and hear.
“Together we can all create the best possible environment for all in football in our diverse county,” said Surinder.