Today (5th February 2022) the End Violence Against Women Coalition, The Three Hijabis and Level Up have sent an open letter to the CEOs of the Premier League and the Football Association, calling for them to take action against gender-based violence.
In a week that’s seen football make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it’s clear that our beautiful game has an ugly underside when it comes to violence against women.
With arrests and charging of high profile football players for domestic and sexual abuse, as well as protests from fans at the signing of a known rapist, it’s time for the FA and Premier League to confront a culture of gender-based violence.
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. 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.
Now is the time for the FA and Premier League to show which side they are on when it comes to violence against women and girls. This means clubs committing to changing their culture, recognising that violence is rooted in inequality and driven by the need for power and control.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) said:
“From the scale of cases we are seeing, it’s clear that football needs to address its systemic and cultural issues with violence against women. Rape and abuse are rooted in women’s inequality and footballers hold a particular position of power and influence and are commonly looked at as role models by boys and men.
We’ve seen the impact of campaigns to keep racism out of football in shaping fans’ attitudes and behaviours – and that work is not done, but we also need for the sport to start meaningfully addressing the issues of sexual violence and domestic abuse.”
Campaign group Level Up have launched a public petition calling for football authorities to implement a zero tolerance policy on any gender-based violence. The petition references similar policies in place in US major sports leagues.
Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Co-Director at Level Up said:
“Prevention is always more effective than punishment. Right now there is an overwhelming culture of impunity in football that normalises gender-based violence, like sexual assualt and domestic abuse, that must be dramatically shifted if they are serious about addressing the problem at the root.
This is an important moment in football, and fans want those with power – the Football Association and the Premier League – to step up and do right by the people who have been harmed, and by football as a whole.”
Amna Abdullatif, Shaista Aziz and Huda Jawad, founders of The Three Hijabis add:
“We know football as a sport and football fans have the power to transform lives and society, we’ve seen this in action time and time again. From the 1.2 million people who’ve signed our petition and joined our movement to tackle racism in the game to the thousands of fans across the country running food banks and creating communities of solidarity and hope for LGBQTIA+ people, refugees and asylum seekers to standing up against misogyny, sexual violence and domestic abuse.
Football’s soul belongs to all of us, the fans, not the faceless multi-millionaires running the game. For football to truly become a game that is safe and inclusive for all it must tackle misogyny head on and provide accountability and transparency for everyone facing harm through the sport. We believe in the power of unity and solidarity and know we, the fans, can push through change.”
The campaign groups are calling for the FA and Premier League to:
- Introduce mandatory training for all players, managers, coaches and owners on gender-based violence.
- 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.
About the End Violence Against Women Coalition
The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a leading coalition of 120 specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms. Find out more: https://evawold.wpengine.com/
About The Three Hijabis
The Three Hijabis are football fans who launched a viral campaign to ban racists from football which started an anti racist movement of more than 1.2 million people after the Euro 2020 final. They are campaigners passionate about addressing racism and misogyny in sports. Find out more: https://www.threehijabis.com/
About Level Up
Level Up is a feminist organisation based in the UK. Our mission is to build a community of people who can work together to interrupt all forms of gender injustice. Find out more: https://www.welevelup.org/
Sinead Geoghegan, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org 07960 744 502