WOMEN IN FOOTBALL CALLS FOR WHOLE-GAME STRATEGY FOR EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION IN ALL OF ENGLISH FOOTBALL’S LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE
Women in Football has given evidence to the DCMS fan-led review into football governance.
Our key recommendation is that the football authorities should develop a strategy for full diversity in governance and leadership across the whole of English football. The strategy should set out a clear vision for what the future leadership of football should look like with regards to diversity, a date by which football will achieve this, and a roadmap for how to get there.
Many football organisations are taking real steps to include more women, more people from Black, Asian and other under-represented ethnically diverse backgrounds, and more people from other under-represented groups, in their leadership. However, we believe it is time for the game to unite its plans under one clear vision, and back it with the resources needed to make truly diverse football leadership, at the most senior levels, a reality.
Recent events highlight just how important it is to include everyone in football’s leadership. On and off the pitch, Gareth Southgate and his England team have brought joy to the nation when we needed it most, yet their achievements have been marred by the terrifying scenes at Wembley and abhorrent online racial abuse experienced by young players who fought so hard for the shirt this summer.
Normalising women, people from under-represented ethnically diverse groups, and people from other under-represented groups in football’s leadership is an important way to tackle these toxic behaviours. In doing this, having more diverse voices at senior level means football will make better decisions, and it will create authenticity, and trust. We all want to be able to look at football’s power-brokers and feel that they look like all of us.
“We now need to embed equality, diversity and inclusion across all of football,” says Women in Football Chair Ebru Köksal, “if we get these principles right at the most senior levels, we have an outstanding chance of meaningful inclusion for everyone across the game.”
But it’s not enough to have a vision. It must be backed by a clear and practical strategy for developing our industry’s future leaders, with insights drawn from all corners of the football community.
Jane Purdon, Women in Football CEO, summarises, “It is with this approach that we can foresee real change, transforming marginalised voices into ones that are heard, and bringing fresh views, expertise and experience to the game’s most senior levels. And best of all, by looking for skilled and talented people from all walks of life, football will give itself the best chance of brilliant, world-beating leadership.”
It’s time for football to commit to full equality and diversity in its governance and leadership.