The Football Association has hired a new head for its anti-discrimination panel, who says ‘homophobia is unacceptable’.
As the World Cup carries on in Brazil with no openly gay players competing, new chair Tariq Sadiq has said he wants to fight against all forms of discrimination in his new role.
The leading employment lawyer with St Philips Chambers, he told HR magazine there is a problem with discrimination at soccer clubs across the UK.
‘Discrimination could take many forms, from racial abuse to homophobia or sexism,’ he said. ‘It's important that people feel they can report this without recrimination or reprisals.
‘New whistleblowing laws incorporate the fact protection requires an element of a disclosure being in the public interest. I'd be surprised if that was not seen as the case in football.’
The panel at the governing body of football in the UK was set up as a response to a series of high-profile incidents of footballers involving racism and homophobia.
In 2012, Liverpool player Suso was fined £10,000 ($16,220, €12,300) for using the word ‘gay’ to insult a teammate on Twitter.
‘Whether it's racist language or homophobic abuse, people need to know that it's unacceptable,’ he said. ‘Often this will go on in backroom activity behind closed doors, so it's important that everyone is aware this needs to be dealt with in the case of all employees.’
He added the FA must be seen to be ‘leading from the front’ on matters of discrimination.
‘We have gone out and recruited 50 people from all backgrounds so it is a very diverse group,’ he said.
‘We have people from ethnic minorities, people who are openly gay and disabled people. We need to reflect the diversity and acceptance we are encouraging within our own staff.’