Tuesday the 2nd of March

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

‘Kick prejudice out of football’

The sporting world needs to eradicate all forms of discrimination, the Chaplain for Sport has warned.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, who is also CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, pointed out that gender and racial equality had not yet percolated through all levels of society, including the sporting world.

“Sport needs to get up to speed and realise that every human being is worth the same as any other, even if their performances are not the same,” Mgr Felzmann told The Universe.

Mgr Felzmann pointed out that despite their performances, all athletes, like everyone else, are human beings and “children of the same Creator, God”.

Mgr Felzmann’s comments come as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warned that the Football Association (FA) ‘risks losing public confidence’ over its handling of the crisis surrounding ex-England women’s team manager Mark Sampson.

The Women in Football (WiF) campaign group has also branded the FA’s treatment of England striker and Sampson whistle-blower Eni Aluko ‘appalling’.

“Football is lauded as ‘the beautiful game’ but it risks being turned ugly with allegations of discrimination, racism and bullying at its core,” said Alastair Pringle, EHRC executive director.

“If players of all races, religions and backgrounds do not feel supported and protected then football cannot be considered a sport for all. The FA risks losing public confidence if it does not eradicate discrimination and forge an open and transparent culture to demonstrate that athletes’ well-being is prioritised.”

The withering assessment of the FA was echoed by WiF, who have supported Aluko since she was dropped from the England squad by Sampson in May 2016, soon after she complained about his behaviour towards her in what she thought was a confidential ‘cultural review’.

“We applaud her commitment to unearthing the truth, her fortitude throughout and her vision to make football a better place for others,” said WiF.

“It is appalling that her efforts saw a stellar playing career derailed by the very system that was meant to protect her.”

The group, now 10 years old, noted that Aluko’s case is depressingly familiar, as research shows more than six in 10 women witness sexism in the workplace.

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:

Saturday 28th October

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – 12:30pm
Arsenal v Swansea City – 3:00pm
Crystal Palace v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Liverpool v Huddersfield Town – 3:00pm
Watford v Stoke City – 3:00pm
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City – 3:00pm
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea – 3:00pm

Sunday 29th October

Brighton & Hove Albion v Southampton – 1:30pm
Leicester City v Everton – 4:00pm

Monday 30th October

Burnley v Newcastle United – 8:00pm

Picture: Eni Aluko in action in the Women’s World Cup 2015 game against Mexico at Moncton Stadium. (Vaughn Ridley/EMPICS Sport).