Football must be held accountable by the new independent regulator for how it tackles discrimination, a key parliamentary committee has said.
In the week that an independent report found evidence of “entrenched” discrimination in cricket, the Committee on Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) insists football cannot be trusted to have its own house on matters Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in order. .
It called for EDI measures to be included in a new football governance code and for the regulator to be given the power to mandate and assess EDI action plans produced by clubs.
The government is looking to legislate for an independent regulator of English football (IREF). Sport Secretary Stuart Andrew told supporters in Manchester last weekend that it would be one of the first bills to be passed after the King’s Speech in the autumn.
However, the government said in its football governance white paper released in February that it did not believe EDI matters should fall under the immediate purview of the regulator, which frustrated anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out, particularly given the review carried out by fans it had recommended that EDI should be the responsibility of the regulator.
The CMS committee says it is “skeptical” that football will develop appropriate collective standards of its own given the “limited progress” it has observed.
A report by the committee that recommended the government establish the regulator in shadow form by the end of the year said: “We are concerned that the government is making recommendations to include EDI action plans for clubs and to oversee those plans within the IREFs ignored.” Order.
“We believe that IREF would be well placed to receive and publish standardized data on compliance with football’s EDI requirements and to monitor and enforce compliance with equality standards through EDI action plans.
“We recommend that the government give IREF the power to mandate EDI action plans as part of their threshold club licensing requirements. Club performance against these action plans should be regularly evaluated by IREF as part of its routine license reviews.”
Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett welcomed the committee’s recommendation, adding: “Football has hesitated too long in making the changes needed to make it a more welcoming sport.
“There is still a lack of diversity in boardrooms, coaches and referees, while players and fans from professional sport to grassroots football suffer discrimination.” While progress has been made, the lack of collaboration and few solid results over the last decade mean that it’s time to speed up the process.
“Therefore we support the recommendations already made in the fan-led review that EDI measures be included in the new football governance code and that action plans be part of a club’s licensing terms.
“Putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of football governance will help the game grow and thereby protect it for generations to come.”
The Government will hold roundtables to advance EDI initiatives across the football pyramid in the coming months, while continuing to work with the FA, leagues, fan representatives and civil society organisations.
The regulator should also set “significantly higher” standards for fan engagement, rather than accepting the Premier League’s existing standards as a basis, the committee said.
Football authorities have also been warned to “pull their shit together” on a new financial agreement between the Premier League, EFL and FA, which would give the new regulator the power to enforce a solution through arbitration if a solution cannot be found among themselves .
However, the PA news agency understands talks on the ‘New Deal For Football’ are making good progress and regular talks are taking place between the three bodies.