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Fans for Diversity has a simple aim – to celebrate diversity among football fans and ensure that all fans can feel safe and welcome at football. Football is the world’s greatest game and it is for everyone, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, faith, sexual orientation or any other feature.
Since its launch in 2014 Fans for Diversity, run by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Kick It Out, has delivered on that aim with a huge array of activities which have inspired participation from communities who might not otherwise have got involved with the beautiful game.
An example we’re especially proud of within that is the explosion of LGBT-led supporter organisations in recent years. Fans for Diversity was instrumental in the creation of Pride in Football, the umbrella network for LGBT fan groups. There are now 30+ LGBT groups across the Premier League and EFL.
We support disabled fans, a good example of that being September 2017’s Southampton’s Accessibility Day organised by Southampton Disability Supporters Association and supported by Fans for Diversity. The event provided disabled and nondisabled fans the opportunity to mix, see behind-the-scenes and meet club ambassadors.
SDSA secretary Paul Lucas said: “These events allow people to come in from the community and mix with disabled people, we are able to speak to young people and show them that disability is not something to be frightened of. “It’s helped us to become one of the biggest disabled supporters’ groups in the country, so we’re delighted with the impact it’s had.”
Supporters also came together to organise a match between disabled fans at the Dripping Pan, home of Lewes FC, before their fixture against Wingate and Finchley. The day of action was even covered by Sky Sports News.
December 2016 also saw the first Fans for Diversity award handed out at the FSF Awards, with Bangla Bantams (Bradford City) scooping the gong for their tireless promotion of their club to the south Asian community in the city. Blues 4 All picked up the award in 2017.
But that’s not all Fans for Diversity is about. The initiative has also worked with West Ham-supporting senior citizens thanks to Sporting Memories and Any Old Irons, new female fan groups such as Lady Imps, and a whole host of organisations via our Fans for Diversity hub at Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road.
Visitors to The Hub include junior O’s supporters, local hospices, Dementia Friends, Cancer Research UK, Disability Coordination Disorder, White Ribbon Campaign, Headway East (brain trauma centre), ELHAP (children with disabilities) and many more.
Fans for Diversity recently teamed up with Swaggarlicious to launch the to launch the Wingate & Finchley FC Disabled Fans Forum. Designed to promote an active, healthy and independent lifestyle for local adults and young people suffering from mental illness, the initiative allows them to come together at The Maurice Rebak Stadium to cheer on their local club and enjoy the beautiful game in a safe place where they can be themselves.
Anwar Uddin is the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager and he wants to engage with supporters across all levels of the game. (Left - Anwar lifts the League Two play-off trophy for Dagenham & Redbridge at Wembley in 2010. Pic courtesy of Action Images.)
“I grew up in East London and support West Ham United. I was fortunate enough to play for the club and won the FA Youth Cup in 1999 before moving on. When I was at Dagenham & Redbridge, I became the first British Asian to captain a side in the Football League,” says Anwar.
“Football brings people together and that’s what Fans for Diversity is about - bringing together fans to highlight diversity and to create an environment where fans feel safe and comfortable in supporting their team. We work closely with all fans and relevant organisations to help challenge these issues as we aim to make football as inclusive as possible.”
- Fans for Diversity is a joint initiative by the FSF and Kick It Out. We have a small budget for club-specific activities - if you'd like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you. Email campaign coordinator Anwar Uddin via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7253 0162.