Round Table Discussion: Tackling Racism in Football
The Consortium of Liverpool National Black & Anti-Racism Organisations
Liverpool Football Club & Local Leaders
27th March 2012 6p.m. till 730.p.m.
The issue of racism in football has emerged as a matter of national concern. The events involving John Terry of Chelsea and Luis Suarez of Liverpool Football Club (LFC) are two of the most prominent incidents that have attracted worldwide attention. Behind the headlines lies the reality that behaviour seen on the pitch today is replicated by young people and fans throughout the country. The findings of the FA investigation into the racially abusive comments made by Luis Suarez were rejected by LFC. The black communities of Liverpool responded to both the Luis Suarez issue and the subsequent inept handling of the issue, by LFC with disappoint and anger. This was also felt by many residents in white communities within the city of Liverpool and beyond. The reputation of both the City and the Club, for its commitment to race equality was damaged as a result. In addition, it was believed by many, that the actions of LFC was seen to be encouraging and promoting racism more generally.
As a result a letter was sent to the club offering advice about how to better manage the situation. This advice was not taken or acknowledged. The Consortium of local black and national anti racist organizations then formed and wrote to LFC seeking a meeting to discuss how best we could all work together to address these issues and restore the reputation of both the City and the Club. The key aim was to help to reverse the promotion of racism among fans and wider society.
That offer has so far been refused with LFC insisting that they are working with a range of national diversity organisations that have no links or track record with working with Liverpool's black community. This is unacceptable. LFC also stated that they are also working with the Liverpool City Council to address these issues. This is to be welcomed. Councils play an important role in providing civic leadership in challenging racism however this cannot be at the expense of the active involvement of communities and partnership at a strategic level. This matter flagged up an urgent need for LFC, to move beyond their work at grass roots level with local black communities and respect the need for community involvement at a strategic level.
To facilitate further discussion around these important matters, the Consortium, comprising of local communities from diverse racial groups and national black and anti racist organizations, through their campaign, Love Football Hate Racism, has organised a national roundtable debate. This is an attempt to facilitate discussion, enhance accountability and promote partnership. Working between LFC and Liverpool's black community, the consortium seeks to provide effective and sustainable local and national leadership on these issues.
The Consortium has won support and admirers locally and nationally, most notably from the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd James Jones, who said;
“This is a hugely important issue and I am encouraged to know that you are taking the initiative to set up this discussion with Liverpool Football Club.”
The Liverpool City Council has signed up and endorsed its commitment to points 3 and 4 of requests, in our statement of intent knowing that points 1 and 2 are not within their gift to do so.
The work effort, resources, human and physical is “big society” in action. The critics are growing fewer in numbers, daily, as we continue to win over hearts and minds and move closer to a sensible consensus on the way forward. The Consortium and its many supporters will continue to work to secure solutions; our lived experience and learned expertise can offer LFC and the city for the benefit of all of communities.
Round Table Discussion
Chairing this roundtable discussion will be Colin Parry OBE. Colin is a tireless campaigner for Peace and has become a prominent authority and speaker in the years following the IRA bombing in Warrington in which his son was killed. Following this tragic event, Colin and his wife Wendy founded the Foundation for Peace and created their unique Peace Centre in Warrington.
Colin was awarded the O.B.E in the Queen's birthday Honours list in 2004 and has received many other awards and accreditations including Rotary International's most prestigious award for 'World Understanding and Peace' before an audience of 10,000 in the Osaka Baseball Dome in Japan.
Invited guests to join the debate include:
Councillor Joe Anderson- Leader of Council
Jon Murphy- Merseyside Police Chief
Mick Ord- Radio Merseyside
Sir Terry Leahy- Business Rep
Liverpool FC representatives (2)
Simone Pound- Professional Footballers Association
John Barnes- Former LFC Player
MP Louise Ellman
MP Steve Rotheham
Councillor Anna Rothery
Alistair Machray- Liverpool Echo
Gloria Hyatt MBE- Teach Consultancy
Eric Lynch- Slavery History Tours
Earl Jenkins - Kingsley United
Femi Sowende - Merseyside Black History
Alec Mc Fadden - Merseyside Coalition Against
Racism and Facism - Merseyside and TUC
Simon Woolley - Operation Black vote
Peter Herbert OBE - Society of Black Lawyers
Lee Jasper- London Race and Criminal Justice
Viv Ahmun- Core Plan UK
Charles Critchlow - National Black Police Association
Others & Community Arun Kang - Sporting Equals
Sir Herman Ousely -Kick Racism Out Football
TBC rep- Show Racism The Red Card
Clare Dove MBE- Blackburne House
Anthony Walker Foundation
Michelle Charters - Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre
The roundtable will focus on three key issues;
1. How do we work with others to highlight and reduce racism in football in light of the LFC’s handing of the Luis Suarez incident and the issues as laid out in our statement of intent?
2. What can football clubs do to challenge racism in football and join the debate about tackling racism in wider society?
3. How do we move forward in partnership, taking into consideration the 4 requests made by the Consortium of Liverpool National Black and Anti-racist Organisations?
The Consortium’s Statement of Intent and Four Requests;
- that LFC publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.
- that LFC and Suarez publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.
- that LFC in partnership with Liverpool and national black and anti-racist organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
- that civic leaders in addition to LFC sign up to a public declaration reaffirming their commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through pro active actions.
Our focus is to ensure that Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool City Council and key leaders in the city
acknowledge the issue of racism and work in partnership strategically with Liverpool's black community and the Consortium in seeking to address these important issues.
· NB: We acknowledge that not all invited guests will be able to attend the debate though they may inform it.
On Twitter follow @LFHRUK
For further information about the consortium go to: http://lfhruk.blogspot.com
The Consortium of Liverpool National Black & Anti-Racism Organisations
Campaign: Love Football Hate Racism