Joint statement from The Three Hijabis and the End Violence Against Women Coalition demanding football takes urgent action to tackle gender-based violence.
Over the last week, sexual violence and domestic abuse in football has once again made the headlines. But while individuals should be held to account for violence against women and girls and this is the right outcome for Manchester United, we are clear that this issue is not solely about individual players, but the industry that supports them, the clubs they play for, the leagues they compete in and the academies that train them.
Solely focusing on the actions of individual players allows football clubs and institutions to evade accountability for the role they play in maintaining a culture of silence and impunity – a culture that enables these abuses of power and status in the first place. This is a structural issue that football must take responsibility for.
In February 2022, we wrote an open letter to the Football Association (FA) CEO and Premier League CEO, calling on them to take action to confront a culture of gender-based violence. This must be tackled at the institutional level – from education on healthy and respectful relationships for young players in academies, to mandatory training on consent at every level of every club, clear sexual misconduct policies and protocols with meaningful consequences and disciplinary action for unacceptable behaviour.
We once again call on footballing authorities to commit to a Gender-Based Violence Charter which addresses prevention, intervention and accountability. This journey of accountability means clubs commit to changing their culture, recognise violence is rooted in inequality and driven by the need for power and control.
We call again on the FA and Premier League to be transparent in how they are moving forward on our call for mandatory sexual consent training to be provided for all players, managers, coaches and club owners
We are clear that this training must cover domestic and sexual abuse, consent, healthy relationships, the impacts of violence and bystander intervention, and that it must be developed and delivered with specialist women’s organisations and organisations ‘led by and for’ Black and minoritised women.
Football players and the teams they play for have a unique position in shaping the attitudes of boys and men. Their behaviour both on and off the pitch is influential, and transforming the culture in football will have a seismic impact on wider society. We believe in the power of unity and solidarity and know we, the fans, can push through change.
The need for football institutions to step up and take urgent, transparent responsibility for tackling gender-based violence has never been clearer.
We reiterate our calls for the FA and Premier League to:
– Introduce a Tackling Gender-Based Violence Charter for clubs to sign up to that sets out minimum standards for policies and action to tackle unacceptable behaviour.
– To adopt clear sexual misconduct policies and protocols with the power to impose appropriate consequences and disciplinary action on players, from suspension without pay to lifetime bans.
– For Academies to introduce prevention programmes for young people that take a “Whole Club Approach” to eliminating violence against women in football. This means consulting local specialist organisations, enforcing clear standards of behaviour, implementing policies in responding to allegations (with recognition that players themselves may experience abuse) and providing access to confidential support for those concerned about harm they may cause or have caused.
Notes to editors
Spokespeople available for comment: Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif, Huda Jawad
Sinead Geoghegan, Communications Manager, EVAW: 07960 744 502 firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaista Aziz, Huda Jawad and Amna Abdullatif, The Three Hijabis: email@example.com