VOLUNTEERS in the region are being urged to join the fight to stamp out discrimination in grassroots soccer via a new Football Association initiative.
Local Football Anti Discrimination Panels (LFADP) are being set up by every county football association across the country and willing participants are sought to help form them.
A series of high-profile incidents involving some of the game’s top stars put the game’s governing body on red alert when it came to discriminatory remarks – verbal or written – being made on and off the field further down the football chain.
The Gloucestershire FA (GFA) have dealt with several similar cases of their own over the past two seasons and are in the throes of forming their own LFADP to deal with episodes relating to discrimination at grassroots level.
County football associations are seeking to appoint a “diverse group of committed individuals independent of the FA and county FA structures”. Duties include membership of discipline commissions at local county associations, acting as an advocate for the County FA, promoting a culture of respect and championing inclusion and anti-discrimination across football, as well as attending FA training for the role.
GFA operations manager Chris Lucker explained: “The LFADP’s are being introduced nationally to address incidents of discrimination in English football and to encourage greater inclusion across the game.
“As part of the plan we are seeking to appoint members for our own Local Football Anti Discrimination Panel, who must be prepared to hear disciplinary charges involving all forms of discrimination within the county and apply the FA’s sanction guidelines in cases found proven.
“We plan to recruit up to seven members for the local panel and we’re eager to hear from people who represent minority groups within their community and/or have relevant backgrounds and skills.”
Lucker added: “There can’t be any regular grassroots player, referee or coach, who hasn’t experienced abusive behaviour and there are times when this is aggravated by discrimination, whether it is related to someone’s age, race, gender, a person’s appearance or maybe their faith.
“It is not acceptable for discriminatory comments to be made in football or in any other walk of life and this panel presents a great opportunity for people with relevant skills and interests to become involved with the football disciplinary process.”
Appointments will be made on a voluntary basis although travel expenses will be covered. Applications must be received by Friday, December 20. The FA will provide appropriate training for all successful candidates.