Respect Futbol - Stop Racism

Tolerance & Respect Campaign for Youth Soccer
4 Point Plan

Tolerance and respect are important values that create a community where everyone feels welcome and is able to reach their full potential.  The values of tolerance and respect apply to all members of the youth soccer community, including players, coaches, families, and referees.  Demonstrating that tolerance and respect are valued within an organization increases opportunities and participation for everyone. 

Summary

This four point plan provides a framework for demonstrating real commitment to tolerance and respect in youth football.  Youth soccer organizations who wish to demonstrate that commitment can use this framework as a starting point for increasing tolerance and respect and insuring that all people, no matter their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, or socio-economic status feel welcome in their community. 

Point 1:

Create a Tolerance & Respect Education and Awareness Program and disseminate it to all league clubs or associations.  This program would include clearly defined terms for what constitutes abuse, racial or otherwise, and examples of situations that create an unwelcoming and disrespectful environment.

Point 2:

Establish an Office of Tolerance and Respect (similar to an ombudsman) for monitoring all incidents of intolerance, disrespect, abuse, or bullying.  The OTR would be responsible for maintaining records of incidents, providing reports to the soccer community, and making recommendations for action when appropriate.

Point 3:

Encourage participation of underrepresented minorities in coaching, training, administrative, and refereeing positions and, ultimately, among the teams as players.  In addition to active recruitment, this should include training, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities.

Point 4:

Include acts of abuse based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexuality as well as bullying in general as gross misconduct in the player and coach participation agreements found in member associations and clubs.  Make sure the league has clear policies for adjudicating incidents of abuse.

Point 1:

Synopsis:

Create a Tolerance & Respect Education and Awareness Program and disseminate it to all league clubs or associations.  This program would include clearly defined terms for what constitutes abuse, racial or otherwise, and examples of situations that create an unwelcoming and disrespectful environment.

Purpose:

As a physical contact sport, there’s always potential for emotions to get away from participants or spectators.  The Tolerance & Respect Education and Awareness Program would help illuminate examples of discriminatory and unwelcoming behavior and clearly define what constitutes abuse.  A better understanding of what is acceptable behavior, not just from a person’s own perspective but also from the point of view of other groups, is essential for creating an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.  Ignorance of the rules or claiming, “that just happens in soccer” or “I didn’t mean it that way” are no excuse for abusive behavior.

Details:

FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has been making the eradication of racism from the beautiful game a major goal.  Multiple European organizations, including the FARE Network (farenet.org) and Show Racism the Red Card (www.srtrc.org) have already established resources and education programs that could be adapted for the US Soccer community.  Local organizations can supplement existing programs with individually tailored explanations of what constitutes abuse, why it is harmful, and the consequences and repercussions.

This program would be made available to all member clubs and associations and in multiple media formats as appropriate.  Club officials, coaches, and referees should be asked to understand and contribute to the program.

Point 2:

Synopsis:

Establish an Office of Tolerance and Respect (similar to an ombudsman) for monitoring all incidents of intolerance, disrespect, abuse, or bullying.  The OTR would be responsible for maintaining records of incidents, providing reports to the soccer community, and making recommendations for action when appropriate.

Purpose:

The OTR will make a focused effort to address issues of intolerance, exclusion, or abuse and monitor compliance with the Tolerance & Respect Education and Awareness Program.  It provides a voice to those who might otherwise feel powerless or who don’t wish to make a formal complaint.  Data gathered by the OTR will help identify potential problem areas or areas where improvement can be made and will provide a baseline to determine if other efforts at promoting tolerance and respect are having an effect.

Details:

In many youth soccer leagues, there are no opportunities to voice a grievance or report an incident other than filing an official complaint.  Both victims and observers are often reluctant to put themselves through the ordeal of an official hearing and/or fear repercussions if they do so. Other complaints may be vague or structural in nature. Without a designated office for such reports members of the community who feel excluded or disrespected may stay silent or leave the organization altogether.

The OTR should create a mechanism for reports of abuse or intolerance as well as suggestions for improving diversity and inclusion.  Members of the community should be able to make reports anonymously if they feel the need.  This is not the place to make official complaints and complaints made to this office will not be referred for an official hearing.  Rather, the ombudsman will gather information to provide to the Board of Directors and the community at large to help create a better understanding of the issues of intolerance that may be present in the organization. 

The thoughtful and equitable selection of individuals to serve in the OTR is crucial to its success.  The OTR should not be filled with individuals who are a part of the administration of the organization, but from players, families, coaches, managers, and referees who are not a part of the official complaint structure.  All segments of the organization must be allowed to have input into the nomination and selection of the individuals who will fill the OTR and their appointments should be of limited term.

 

Point 3:

Synopsis:

Encourage participation of underrepresented minorities in coaching, training, administrative, and refereeing positions and, ultimately, among the teams as players.  In addition to active recruitment, this should include training, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities.

Purpose:

In order to increase participation from players in underrepresented communities an organization must demonstrate that those players are welcome.  The most effective way to do this is to make sure that many different communities are represented in the league leadership, coaching staff, and referees.  When players have adults from their communities within the soccer organization that they can look up to, they will feel confident that this is an organization in which they can succeed. 

Details:

The most significant action that the league could take to encourage broader participation from underrepresented communities is to simply state that increased diversity is a priority for the league.  The organization must then follow up with specific actions designed to facilitate that increase.

Some possibilities include:

  • Organize league and club outreach to underserved communities.
  • Provide scholarships for players/teams that lack the financial means to participate.  Make this a priority for the development league.
  • Establish mentoring programs for developing minority coaches using existing minority coaches.
  • Seek funding for scholarships for minority coaches take credential courses and obtain coach licenses.
  • Create a policy for the recruitment of coaches, referees, and directors of coaches inspired by the NFL “Rooney rule.” Special emphasis should be placed on making sure that minorities are represented on the coaching staff of the development league.

Point 4:

Synopsis:

Include acts of abuse based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexuality as well as bullying in general as gross misconduct in the player and coach participation agreements found in member associations and clubs.  Make sure the league has clear policies for adjudicating incidents of abuse.

Purpose:

When the organization has clear written policies regarding discrimination or abusive behavior based on a person’s race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexuality, all members of the organization understand that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.  The organization must require that all members make a commitment to an open, tolerant, and respectful environment so that tolerance and respect becomes the community norm.  Infractions must have serious consequences and they must be clearly defined and rigorously enforced in order to establish a positive respectful organizational culture.

Details:

In addition to league rules regarding general abuse or misconduct the league or association must establish specific definitions, responses, and consequences for discriminatory behavior or abuse.  Clear policy and swift response will go a long way toward creating a welcoming, diverse environment.

 

Prepared by Alex Kajumulo, Director, Soccer Monster (March 2013)

Contact: alex@soccermonster.org

Website Builder