Sport continues battle against discrimination a year after George Floyd’s death

UEFA has launched a new campaign encouraging everyone involved in football to join the fight against discrimination by signing up to an Equal Game.

The message is spearheaded by stars Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho, Moise Kean, Pernille Harder, Matthijs De Ligt and Joao Felix, who have shared personal stories and digital signature cards on their social media platforms.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “It is inspiring to see a younger generation of top footballers using their influence to stand up, tackle discrimination and educate and inspire others.

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“We feel strongly committed to this cause and have chosen the global reach of Euro 2020 to maximise the impact of this campaign.

“It is not only players but all of us that should be role models in the fight against discrimination. Famous or not, we all have the responsibility to act and positively influence our environment.”

The launch comes a year to the day since the murder of George Floyd in the United States, which sparked global anti-discrimination protests and demands for change across all different areas of life.

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Later on Tuesday, the Premier League, Football Association, English Football League and anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out all posted a statement calling for stronger legislation following a meeting aimed to clamp down on racist abuse on social media.

“The football authorities met with UK parliamentarians, Thierry Henry and Lucy Bronze today to discuss online abuse in football,” the joint statement read.

“We are calling on the social media companies to bring to an end the vile discriminatory abuse players and many others have to endure on their platforms.

“We support a strong Online Safety Bill to protect users from online hate and discrimination.”

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Earlier, UK Athletics had marked the anniversary by reaffirming “its commitment to zero tolerance of racism and all forms of discrimination”.

UKA established a Let’s Talk about Race programme, RACEquality Network and Diversity Action Plan to address the issue.

The governing body said in a statement: “The athletics family spoke loudly last year and UKA listened.

“Action was taken and we have continued with this commitment most recently by further increasing the diversity of our board, and we will continue to ensure we are representative of the sport and athletes we serve.”

Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer has written an open letter on rugby-league.com admitting his sport needs to do more.

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“The truth is that, when spectators returned last week, black faces were few and far between,” said Rimmer.

“The reality is that our sport is not fully representative of our communities – on professional or community pitches, in boardrooms and clubhouses, on the terraces and out in those communities.

“And this means that rugby league misses out on immense talent, passion, skills and experience, as well as opportunities to connect, learn, grow, and expand.

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“Some people don’t think racism exists in rugby league but the reaction on RFL social media channels at any mention of Black Lives Matter tells a different story.”

Last October, the RFL introduced Tackle It, a four-year action plan to make rugby league an inclusive sport.

“A truly diverse and inclusive rugby league is a stronger rugby league,” said Rimmer. “It shouldn’t have taken the murder of a defenceless black man on the other side of the Atlantic to bring that home to us, but to some extent it did. George Floyd, may you rest in power and peace.”