Football Association Chairman: ‘No player should fear coming out as gay’

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The Chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, has said that no football player should fear coming out of the closet, following a decision by the governing body to tackle discrimination.

The action plan to tackle discrimination by the FA will be submitted to the government, and follows a Downing Street summit held in February, and follows the Luis Suarez and John Terry racial abuse cases, reports the Daily Mail.

Mr Bernstein said: “This is a very important day. Ensuring the game is inclusive and combats discrimination has been – and remains – at the top of my agenda.

“There remain challenges ahead in this area and all of football would agree we need to find more ways of developing more black and ethnic minority coaches and creating pathways for them.

“Equally, no football player should fear coming out as gay at the risk of suffering discrimination and we continue to strengthen our support programmes to ensure the game is open to all regardless of their sexuality.

“The over-riding message remains that there is simply no place for any form of discrimination in football.”

As well as the FA, the new action plan has been agreed by the Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the League Managers’ Association (LMA) and referees’ bodies.

According to the plan, all of the organisations involved would support “standard clauses that address discriminatory language and behaviour, in managers and coaches’ contracts.”

Referencing possible action against clubs which fail to act on discrimination, the plan read that the FA would work “‘with the Premier League and Football League to sanction clubs who repeatedly fail to sanction their employees, who breach their contract or code of conduct, or deal inadequately with fans in relation to discriminatory language or behaviour.”

The new plan of action was welcomed by Maria Miller, Culture Secretary, who said:

“While we have made significant progress in this area over the last two decades, recent incidents have shown a need for concerted action.

“We want to see this action plan implemented and the football authorities to show strong leadership on anti-discrimination at both the professional and grassroots levels of the game. The sports minister will continue to work with the football authorities to make progress in this area.”

An “Inclusion Advisory Board” will be set up by the FA to oversee the plan, and it will call “on [the Union of European Football Associations], to consider minimum standard codes of conduct”, as part of the European governing body’s club licensing system.

The FA said the action plan should be implemented immediately, and that it should, at the very least, be in place by next football season.