LGBTQ Alliance event settles score on equality in football

Wed 17 November, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire’s LGBTQ Alliance hosted a Football Equality Panel this week, looking into equality in football across gender, race, ethnicity and sexual identity.

The virtual discussion took place on Tuesday 16th November and featured three guest speakers from the spheres of football and academia, alongside two hosts from the Alliance. The presentations were followed by a Q&A, and anybody who missed the event can watch it back on YouTube.

The panel discussed the issues facing football in its quest for equality, a sport which often simultaneously presents progressive attitudes and the persistence of societal discrimination. A fan being arrested for online racial abuse of England players and Josh Cavallo becoming the only current top-flight male professional footballer in the world to come out as gay have made headlines in the past month, showing how football continues to be representative of wider cultural issues.

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Hosts

Kelly Alexander, School Enhancement Lead in the School of Society, Community and Health and Events Officer of the LGBTQ Alliance

Alex Baird, Lecturer in Sport and Physical Education and Secretary of the LGBTQ Alliance

Speakers

Karen Dobres, Director of Lewes Football Club – nicknamed Equality FC and the first club to pay equal money to their men’s and women’s teams.

Samuel Timms, Founder and Chair of Villa & Proud – the Aston Villa LGBTQ Supporters Network

Ross Ensor – PhD Researcher in Sports Coaching at Loughborough University

Kelly Alexander, one of the event organisers, hopes the panel’s discussion gave an insight into how industry professionals and academics are exploring how the football industry can better address the experience of minority and marginalised groups in sport.

She commented: “We were so excited to invite speakers with grass-roots experience of addressing equality in football to present at the University; we hope it engaged students and staff in a vital debate about the importance and value of inclusion.

“Drawing on their ground-breaking approaches and research concerned with creating equality in football, I hope our panel informed and inspired future sports people, educators, therapists, journalists and fans who are all developing their sporting values in association with the University.”

Local schools were invited to the event, meaning football-loving children were able to hear fascinating and insightful presentations from experts who have been involved in the sport for many years. Karen Dobres, Director of Lewes FC and one of the panellists believes the sport’s popularity can be used to direct our culture in a positive manner. She said:

"I'm delighted to have spoken on the LGBTQ Alliance's Football Equality Panel this week. Not only does the world's most popular sport reflect our culture, but its power can also be harnessed to direct it.

“It's important to have the chance to talk about what is being done within football to contribute to a more equitable world, and how to share and support good practice off the pitch as well as on it.”

Andrew Church and Kelly AlexanderPro-Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Church, who opened the event, added: “I’m very grateful to the University of Bedfordshire’s LGBTQ Alliance for organising the Football Equality Panel and convening such a good panel who provided really important insights into past injustices and ways of improving the situation in future.”

The event is still free to view on the University’s YouTube channel.

Visit the LGBTQ Alliance webpage to stay up to date with its news and events, such as where to collect red ribbons on Wednesday 1st December for World AIDS Day.

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