Campaigns: Football tries to stamp out racist faction - Grassroots PR

Client: Kick It Out

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: National Anti-Racism Week

Timescale: 16-28 October

Budget: £70,000 - £80,000

Kick It Out is an organisation which campaigns to rid football of racism - a problem that was highlighted recently when the England squad's black players faced racial slurs and chants when they played in Slovakia in October.

The issue of racial abuse has become one of shame for both organisers and players in professional football.

Kick it Out was set up in 1993 by the Professional Footballers Association and the Commission for Racial Equality. It is now funded by every professional football body in England, including the Football Association, the Football League, and referee and supporters' groups.

Throughout the year it works behind the scenes with clubs and the FA on policy, and each year during National Anti-Racism Week in October it stages an 'extended week' of public events to keep awareness of racism in football on the agenda.

Kick It Out is a tiny organisation, with just three full-time and three part-time staff to help with the annual campaign, and has no dedicated PR function.

There were 46 arrests by police in the UK for racist chanting and behaviour inside football grounds last year. Kick It Out estimates that it receives around 100 reports of racism each season, but thinks the number of incidents could be twice as high.

This year, Kick It Out organised its biggest ever series of events across Europe, including Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Poland and the UK. This story focuses on the UK effort.

Objectives

To get buy-in from every professional league club in England and Wales, as well as local communities.

To highlight to fans, the media and other audiences that racism is still a problem in English football.

To communicate the cultural diversity in football, and to show that the game crosses cultural barriers.

Strategy and Plan

This year's campaign had three strands. The first was to ask all professional league clubs in England and Wales to organise an anti-racism day. The 'extended week' straddled two weekends so that each club would have a home game during the campaign.

Kick It Out suggested basic guidelines for the day, including players warming up in Kick It Out or other anti-racism T-shirts, and asking all club officials and staff to wear badges which were visible when they were interviewed on television, or when in-shot in the dug-outs.

The organisation provided badges, stickers and posters for distribution to the fans. Some clubs did far more than this: Leeds Utd, Manchester Utd and Arsenal, for example, all organised cards for entire stands which, when held up together, made anti-racism messages.

Others laid on entertainment for the crowd to mark the day, and clubs also issued warnings to fans that racism would not be tolerated.

At community and grass- roots level, Kick It Out helped organise activities across the country and provided grants totalling £30,000 from the FA to help community groups, schools and libraries mount anti-racism events.

As well as five-a-side football matches, activities included children writing and performing plays, anti-racism songs and raps, and exhibitions of black footballers of the past. Again, Kick It Out supplied support for the activites, as well as T-shirts, badges, stickers and banners.

The third strand of the campaign, mounted for the first time this year, was to organise regional events to showcase what was going on locally.

Eight events were held in big cities across the UK. They took the form of Q&A forums for children to talk to premier league footballers and TV stars about racism in football - which had become even more topical since the well-publicised events at the Slovakia game days before.

In Newcastle, for example, the panel included England's international footballer Kie-ron Dyer, members of the Sunderland squad, and actors from children's TV series Byker Grove.

At the same time as Kick It Out's week of activities, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) organisation, of which Kick It Out is a member, was holding its own week of activities.

Their campaign involved activities in a number of European countries, from Poland to Italy. At Kick It Out's suggestion, it was the first time that events in the UK and Europe had been co-ordinated to take place simultaneously, which was intended to gain even greater exposure.

Measurement and Evaluation

More than one million football fans, at a conservative estimate, had the opportunity to see the Kick It Out messages and activities over the two weekends of the campaign.

All 92 professional clubs in England and Wales took part, dedicating their home game to the anti-racism theme.

There were also more than 300 community events across the country. The team at Kick It Out is in the process of evaluating the media coverage scientifically, but there was an enormous amount of interest and early analysis suggests the campaign's key messages came across.

Relevant statistics such as the fact that only one per cent of season ticket holders are black, were often quoted. Local press, radio and television channels covered all the events, and there was coverage in all the nationals and on TV, including The Premiership and Football Focus.

Kick It Out also had a chance to get their messages across on Channel 4 as part of the build-up to the England v Macedonia match.

Results

With a team of just three full-time staff and only a small budget, Kick It Out managed to achieve buy-in from the entire footballing community.

However, the campaign is a long-term effort, and while Britain has done much to highlight racism in football, and has achieved more than most of Europe, there is still a long way to go.

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