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Mark Foster

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Kick It Out

Posted: 11/11/2013 17:36

Funny how some weeks, topics and themes just write themselves and this week was one of those.

It started with being invited to a golf day run in aid of the charity Kick It Out!, which is about tackling racism in football. This is a very worthwhile charity and one that I am happy to support, as I am passionate that sport should be accessible to everybody in our society, regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation.

And, if in the process, I can also get a round of golf in, even better. So, off I went to Brocket Hall and had a great round hosted by Troy Townsend.

And then over the next few weeks, the issue kept coming up again and again in the media, which pressed home just how live and important it is.

I think it is generally accepted that sport has got a bit of catching up to do before it truly reflects the attitudes towards equal rights and tolerance, held by the wider society in the UK.

But I do think the debate is moving forward and we are pushing against an open door (although perhaps a slow moving one) and its up to our UK sporting bodies to make sure that equality becomes a reality on the pitch, on the track, in the pool and of course on the terraces.

When we see the ugly and offensive spectacle of Yaya Toure being targeted for racial abuse in the recent match in Russia, it goes to show that some parts of the world have yet to even get to the starting blocks.

Uefa and all the other sports governing bodies have a huge role to play in their condemnation of intolerance and must use their considerable influence to promote equality in countries that have ambitions to stage world class sporting events.

It is sometimes hard to see how international sporting competitions that are all about the spirit of fair play, the pursuit of excellence and triumph of the human spirit, can be staged in societies where basic human rights are denied by the state and so much prejudice and ignorance, allowed to flourish.

So inevitably, the calls for boycotting of such events, grow louder.

Yet, I'm not sure boycotting is always the most effective way forward.

I doubt if many people can remember that the 1980 Olympics were boycotted by the USA or more importantly why they pulled out, but I'll bet a lot more people can remember the iconic Black Power protests by Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 in the full glare of the global media.

So perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt from that.

Equality and human rights are fragile realities so we cannot be complacent and all our voices must become louder and stronger to ensure that the considerable gains made around the world are not lost.

 

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