Tackling Racism in Football

Racism in football has been in the news several times in recent months. John Terry is charged with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and now Mark McCammon claims he and other black players at Gillingham Football Club were treated differently to white players and is making an employment tribunal claim for racial discrimination and unfair dismissal to be heard later this year.  The Prime Minister is aiming to crack down on racism in football and will be examining the lack of black coaches, managers and referees in the game.  The Football Association are now looking at tougher punishments for players and managers accused of racist behaviour.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of race. Race includes colour, nationality and ethnic/national origins.  It doesn’t matter if the discrimination is done on purpose or not. What counts is whether, as a result of an employer’s actions, an employee is treated less favourably than someone else because of race. The Equality Act 2010 Act protects all racial groups, regardless of their race, colour, nationality, or national or ethnic origins. Every part of employment is included; recruitment, terms and conditions, pay and benefits, status, training, promotion and transfer opportunities, right through to redundancy and dismissal. There are four kinds of unlawful behaviour.

a) direct discrimination – where race is an effective cause for less favourable treatment eg not being offered a job because of a particular nationality,

b) indirect discrimination – where rules or policies are applied to everyone but which particularly disadvantage members of a particular group if that can not be justified eg qualifications required for a job post which have only been gained in the UK,

c) harassment – participating in or allowing or encouraging unwanted behaviour that offends somone or creates a hostile atmosphere eg making racist remarks,

d) victimisation – treating someone badly because they have complained or supported someone bringing a complaint about discrimination eg taking disciplinary action against someone as punishment for their complaint about race discrimination.

Employers need to have a clear policy and procedure in place that gives clear guidelines for conduct and how misconduct will be dealt with.  The FA would do well to heed this advice.