Premier League grounds will display ‘No Room for Racism’ adverts and banners over the next two rounds of fixtures as part of a new campaign to tackle the perceived rise in the number of discriminatory incidents at games.
The awareness campaign runs from Saturday March 30, to Monday April 8, and will see branded promotional material at stadiums and on social media.
The move, however, has not been universally welcomed by anti-racism campaigners, as these two weekends have usually been set aside for football’s main charity in this area, Kick It Out, and it has not been consulted on the initiative.
Press Association Sport understands that while Kick It Out, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is pleased to see the league take racism seriously, it does wonder if the anti-discrimination message would have been more effective if it was more consistent and joined-up.
One source close to Kick It Out, who wished to remain anonymous, told PA Sport that clubs have contacted the charity to say they are confused about whether to promote its message or the Premier League’s.
Another source said there is disappointment at Kick It Out that the league did not discuss its plans with the charity. It also pointed out that instead of investing in a new campaign, the league could have given Kick It Out more money.
Last season, the Premier League gave Kick It Out just under £270,000, while the English Football League, Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association contributed £125,000 each.
It is understood, though, that the Premier League has reassured the charity on Monday it has no intention of setting up a rival organisation and this initiative is a response to a call from Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley this season for clubs to do more to fight discrimination in their grounds.
It should also be added that Kick It Out material will also be promoted by Premier League clubs over the next two weekends and club captains will wear the charity’s logo on their armbands.
In a statement, the Premier League interim chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “Together with our clubs, we are proud of the diversity throughout the Premier League, in the stands, on the pitch and within our communities.
“Working with Kick It Out since 1993, great progress has been made in tackling racism through a range of initiatives and club partnerships. We are also aware that much more needs to be done, and the Premier League is committed to further promoting inclusion and diversity throughout our competition and beyond.
“It is evident there is still a minority of people who think discriminatory behaviour is acceptable, but the No Room for Racism campaign makes it clear that it will not be accepted by the Premier League and our clubs.”
This season has been blighted by several high-profile incidents of discriminatory abuse, alleged or otherwise, most notably involving Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. Kick It Out has also said that reports of discrimination have been rising in recent years, particularly on social media.