‘The Senior Player Programme on Diversity and Equality’ will see footballers obliged to attend a talk to highlight unacceptable behaviour and encourage the reporting of incidents
Premier League and Football League players have been asked by the Professional Footballers’ Association to attend sessions on racist and homophobic discrimination.
Every footballer from all 92 English league teams will be obliged to attend a 45-minute course titled ‘The Senior Player Programme on Diversity and Equality’ during the season to highlight unacceptable language and encourage the reporting of offending incidents.
The initiative follows high-profile cases involving Chelsea captain John Terry and Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, who were both handed bans after being found guilty using racist language.
“We are rolling out these courses on equality and the nature of law in this country so there is no excuse for not abiding by those laws,” PFA chief Taylor told Press Association Sport.
“Letters have gone out to clubs and we need to avoid any such embarrassment again after the recent cases.”
New Football Association rules state a first offensive will now automatically result in a five-match ban, with new contracts now including clauses that could result in termination of the contract if a player is found guilty of discrimination.
The PFA fear such incidents are going unreported as players are either being advised not to go public with abuse or are reluctant to voice concerns to more senior club figures, while comments on Twitter are advised against.
A letter sent to managers states: “The programme has been put in place to tie in with the increased sanctions around discrimination which will take effect from the start of the new season, and will reinforce the importance of equality and diversity issues, particularly in relation to the use of language and to prevent players falling foul of regulations and incurring bans and undue media attention.
“We are looking to arrange this session in the near future and would appreciate you ensuring players attend as a matter of priority.
“We want to encourage the players to make reports if they are a victim of racist or other discriminatory abuse, and to encourage team-mates to come forward as witnesses if they also hear something.
“It is important that you as managers have information about the reporting process so that you can support players to make complaints after an incident.
“We are told players do not want to approach their managers about some such incidents in case they are told to ignore it.”