At a time when race and religion has fuelled riots and attacks in Britain and across the world, football can be used as “a tool for social cohesion,” says Kevin Coleman from the Kick It Out campaign.
An anti-discriminatory campaign organisation established in 1993, Kick It Out was “set up in response to racism on professional grounds,” he says. But what started as a campaign against racism has now branched out on issues like women’s football, disability football as well as LGBT football.
“When football raises those issues, they get discussed,” says the Grassroots Development Officer at Kick It Out.
And with a motive to kick out racism from football, Kick It Out is hosting its annual Weeks of Action this month. The Weeks of Action, according to Coleman, is to create a discourse and spread awareness on racism-related issues in football.
Every year there are about 1,000 different activities during the Weeks of Action. This year’s campaign has all 92 professional football clubs supporting Kick It Out’s annual anti-racism event. Football stars like Rio Ferdinand from Manchester United, Darren Brent from Aston Villa and Joe Hart from Manchester City are representing their clubs this season.
Coleman, speaking to journalist today, describes the month-long event concluding on 20 November with the Chelsea V Liverpool game, as one of the “biggest initiatives” of the organisation.
“We generate 1.5 to 2 million pounds every year,” Coleman says.
He says though every sport has its own complexities, football has the worst racism-related issues by volume. But Coleman acknowledges the fact that the landscape has changed in line with the society.
“Change in football would have happened with change in society. But we’ve [help] speed the process,” he says.