Lord Ouseley: Authorities must act
Lord Herman Ouseley hopes there will be no need for the Kick It Out campaign to mark another 20 years in the game as their drive for equality will finally have been taken on board by the football authorities.
Wembley Stadium hosted the organisation's anniversary dinner on Tuesday evening, which comes amid controversy over sexist comments by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
Ouseley, who helped found the anti-discrimination group in 1993 and is now chair of Kick It Out, believes the initiatives must continue, but can only be done so if fully embraced by all bodies within the game.
"Tonight is a reflection on how far we have come in 20 years, when we said something has to be done because football is in a dire state, with black players putting up with all sorts of c*** and their families not being able to go to watch because they could not cope with it," Ouseley said.
"We are in a better place now, but there is still work to be done.
"The important thing is that people are more aware of the issues of discrimination, abuse of others, issues of respect which is being embedded into the next generation coming through.
"There is a better regulatory system, clubs, stewards and police are all working together to make sure it is a safer environment, where people who are misbehaving can be identified and banned, then prosecuted if necessary.
"More importantly we want to get to the point where clubs and the authorities accept responsibility to go to the next level and not just say we are doing these things, getting the banners out and the T-shirts, it is about day to day engagement and inclusion."
Ouseley continued: "I won't be here in 20 years' time, running Kick It Out, but realistically in another decade you cannot envisage football still relying on a voluntary organisation to be trying to change the game, when others have the power, the resources and responsibility to take football to the next level in the 21st century where it is seen as a dynamic organisation setting an example.
"We are trying to get the message across through football, but the authorities need to take that on themselves, as do the clubs, helping the community."
Former prime minister Gordon Brown addressed the guests in the Great Room before dinner, with Ouseley then taking to the stand, the key notes from his speech having already been made public earlier this week.
Later there was a screening of Kick It Out's 20-year anniversary film before former Tottenham defender Garth Crooks led a panel discussion which included David Davies, David Dein and Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, all of whom played their part in helping the development of the initiative from its inception in 1993.
Following specials awards for services to the organisation's work within the grassroots community, FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, chair of the global body's anti-discrimination taskforce also gave his views of the fight for equality, looking ahead to what he hoped would be a World Cup showcased for positive efforts on and off the pitch.
He said: "We need to act together and implement education and sanction from the top down across all levels of football."
Martin Luther King III had made a special journey from Atlanta in the United States to attend the organisation's anniversary dinner.
He said: "There is not enough to be said to thank this organisation for what it is doing to stamp out racism and discrimination, sexism and homophobia in football.
"We live in a world where inclusion is warranted, both my father and mother dedicated their lives towards eradicating those 'triple evils' my dad defined as poverty, racism and violence.
"Obviously we have not achieved those things yet, but change is coming in this nation and in the world.
"People must stand up against racism.
"We know what we should do, we know what we must do, but we just have to identify the will - when ability and will meet then results occur."
Related FA News