Players to attend equality sessions

06 August 2013 08:01

Every senior player in the Premier League and Football League will be obliged to attend a session this season to receive guidance on racist and homophobic language and where banter oversteps the mark.

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) is organising the sessions, called The Senior Player Programme on Diversity and Equality, and the union has written to the managers of all 92 clubs asking them to make sure the players attend.

The sessions will highlight what sort of language is unacceptable - even as banter in the dressing room - and encourage players to report incidents if they are either victims or witnesses of abuse.

It follows the high-profile cases during the last two seasons where Chelsea's John Terry and Liverpool's Luis Suarez both received bans for racial abuse, and new FA sanctions which carry a minimum five-match ban for a first offence of racist or homophobic abuse.

Players will also be warned that new contracts will carry clauses making discriminatory abuse a gross misconduct offence that could lead to immediate dismissal by a club.

A letter about the programme from PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has gone out to every manager.

Taylor told Press Association Sport: "We are rolling out these courses on equality and the nature of law in this country so there is no excuse for not abiding by those laws. Letters have gone out to clubs and we need to avoid any such embarrassment again after the recent cases."

The letter from the PFA to the managers states: "The programme has been put in place to tie in with the increased sanctions around discrimination which will take effect from the start of the new season, [and] will reinforce the importance of equality and diversity issues, particularly in relation to the use of language and to prevent players falling foul of regulations and incurring bans and undue media attention.

"We are looking to arrange this session in the near future and would appreciate you ensuring players attend as a matter of priority."

The programme has been developed by the PFA in conjunction with the FA, the League Managers' Association and the Premier League. Each session will last for 45 minutes and will be delivered by two tutors, one of whom will be a former professional player.

Source: PA