Tony Burnett, boss of Kick It Out: Football culture must fundamentally change if discrimination is to end | Football News
The only way to end the abuse is to fundamentally change the culture of football in the same way the fan violence of the 1970s and 1980s was driven out, according to the new boss of Kick it Out.
Tony Burnett doesn’t think discrimination will ever be completely eradicated from the game, but insists the goal of Kick It Out remains the same in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News.
Burnett joined Kick It Out as Managing Director earlier this month after serving in the West Midlands Police Department as Deputy Director for Diversity and Inclusion.
Kick It Out is England’s football organization for equality and inclusion, and since 1997 it has taken responsibility for tackling all aspects of discrimination, inequality and exclusion in the game .
After his arrival, Burnett has already identified three key areas he wants to focus on; report incidents of discrimination, education and guidance, and talent development, so that more minority groups are represented and employed in football.
In recent months, leading Premier League players such as Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah and Chelsea’s Reece James have been victims of racial abuse online.
Burnett believes police resources are too stretched to deal with hate online properly and that massive boycotts of social media companies may be the solution, until they make users more accountable and more identifiable. for the comments they make.
Responding directly to comments from Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, the online abuse will “kill football” unless it is rooted out, Burnett said: “Xhaka is not the first player to be abused. its own supporters.
“I think we have to ask ourselves why sane people think often enough that they can behave in a way, when entering the sphere of football, that they would not understand in other areas of society. or at their workplace.
“Football seems to create an environment in which men of a certain disposition think it is okay to be abusive. Toxic masculinity in football is a problem. Educated middle-class men behave in a way that they wouldn’t even consider in any other walk in their life.
“Violence has been eradicated in football, but it is not, and we cannot allow it to continue.”
Burnett adds that he believes traditional grandstand aggression towards players on the pitch is key to understanding the roots of hate online.
“What happened to Xhaka is one example,” he said. “A crowd becoming a collective source of abuse, and it shows in social media and in the ground. It’s not okay in normal life, why is it okay in football?
“We cannot solve this alone, and we are working with all football stakeholders to try to eradicate it. There is no simple solution.
“But we need a united voice that says this is wrong. We absolutely need to pressure social media companies to take action against the perpetrators and get them arrested.”
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Kick It Out Signaling Racism
Kick It Out is the football for equality and inclusion organization – which works across football, education and community sectors to fight discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.