Top names toast the UK’s Kick It Out campaign22 January 2004

Some of the biggest names in football gathered in central London to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football campaign on Wednesday 21st January.

England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, FA Chief Executive, Mark Palios, and Premiership players including Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Les Ferdinand, Martin Keown and Chris Powell, joined pioneering ex-players including John Barnes, Brendan Batson, Viv Anderson, Cyrille Regis and John Fashanu at an anniversary lunch.

The lunch highlighted the achievements of the campaign in challenging racism in the game. Kick It Out was founded during the 1993-1994 football season by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). Kick It Out were one of the founding members of the FARE network and have active members of the FARE core group ever since.

The campaign, which since 1997 has been run with the support of the English FA, Premier League, PFA and the Football Foundation, is widely cited as being the catalyst for positive change in the game through the development of innovative techniques across the football industry.

Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, and Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the PFA, hosted the lunch which also featured the UK Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, UK Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, Premiership referee, Uriah Rennie, Charlton Manager, Alan Curbishley, and ex-England manager, Graham Taylor.

Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out since its inception, said earlier,
“Before 1993 my experience of trying to get anyone in authority to back a campaign to rid football of racism was met with ridicule and rejection. When the campaign was eventually founded I was asked on many occasions, ‘what’s the point?’”

“The campaign set out its aims as tackling racism in all areas and at all levels of the game and much progress can be reported. However, much remains to be achieved. The next few years will see a strengthening and renewal of our efforts to ensure the sport reflects the diversity of Britain in the 21st century, that the aspirations of individuals who feel excluded from the game as fans, players or coaches because of ethnic origin are met.”

Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the PFA, commented,
“Pioneering black players such as Clyde Best, Cyrille Regis, Viv Anderson and many others had to endure horrific levels of racial abuse from the terraces. It will always remain a testament to their strength of character that they were able to silence many of those racists with skill and composure.”

“As a founding member of the campaign, the PFA has been proud to reflect on the impact of the campaign and will continue to contribute to the changing agenda on equality. Issues such as the need to ensure equality of opportunity for black players looking to take up coaching and management positions in the game, are foremost in our minds.”