Bevington to intensify FA campaign against racism

Football Association head of media relations Adrian Bevington this week pledged to ‘step up’ the organisation’s ongoing campaign to tackle the racist and violent behaviour that tarnishes many England football matches.

Bevington was last month confirmed as permanent boss of the FA’s PR operation, following the redundancy of comms director Paul Newman seven weeks ago as part of an ongoing cost-cutting programme (PRWeek, 18 April).

He pledged this week that campaigns would continue throughout the summer, despite the lack of international football fixtures, and that all perpetrators of future disorder would be ‘well publicised via the media’.

As PRWeek went to press, the England team was preparing to face Slovakia in a qualifier for Euro 2004, and the FA was implementing PR efforts to broadcast its core anti-violence and anti-racism messages.

Screens broadcasting a message from England captain David Beckham had been stationed outside Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, where the game was taking place. Similar tactics were used before last week’s friendly against Serbia and Montenegro.

In addition, Bevington said goalkeeper David James had spent 45 minutes with MTV producers earlier this week, as part of a planned anti-racism programme on the channel.

At England’s last competitive home fixture, against Turkey in Sunderland on 2 April, home fans chanted anti-Turkish songs and celebrated goals by running onto the pitch.

Bevington said PR initiatives undertaken following that game – including a ‘name and shame’ campaign – would continue. The day before the Slovakia game the press published a fresh series of CCTV stills of suspected hooligans.

Bevington, who was formerly Newman’s deputy and took control of PR

on an interim basis when the latter left, has taken charge of a five-strong PR team.

His deputy is Andrin Cooper, supported by media co-ordinator Joanne Budd, media officer (National Game) Alex Stone and an admin assistant.

Bevington had formerly divided his work-time between Teeside and London, but is now based full-time at the FA’s offices in Soho Square.

Meanwhile, Manchester City FC this week denied media speculation linking the club with a move for Newman, with a spokesperson insisting the club had not made any approach to him. Newman himself refused to comment.

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