Just Eat launches first-of-its-kind initiative to assist grassroots football teams in commitment to LGBTQIA+ allyship
- Just Eat has partnered with not for profit, Football vs Homophobia, to launch an initiative for grassroots football teams to increase inclusivity
- Allies United, which launches this Pride month, kick-starts with training sessions that will enable hundreds of grassroot clubs to take the first step on their journey to being allies
- England Defender and Wolverhampton Wanderers player and highly publicised ally, Conor Coady, is supporting the campaign and calling on teams to sign up, enabling more inclusivity and accessibility at grassroots level
- The campaign comes after new research revealed that less than a third of the LGBTQIA+ community would consider playing grassroots football
Just Eat has today announced the launch of Allies United – the first-of-its-kind initiative designed to support football clubs in enabling more inclusivity in the grassroots game.
Backed by England Defender Conor Coady, the campaign will see the creation of a training programme, co-created with anti-discrimination not for profit, Football vs Homophobia, to encourage clubs’ commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the game.
New data, commissioned by Just Eat, reveals that over three quarters (78%) of people from the LGBTQIA+ community wouldn’t consider playing grassroots football. Barriers include concerns about homophobic and transphobic language used (18%), lack of feeling welcomed as a member of the community (15%) and not enough conversation around LGBTQIA+ allyship (14%). Despite this, almost nine in 10 (90%) grassroots football clubs state that they would welcome anyone, regardless of how they identify or who they love.
However, while there is a willingness to be more inclusive, there is also a lack of understanding as to what allyship means or entails. One in four (25.7%) grassroots football leaders and players say they aren’t sure what good allyship practice is and almost half admit it’s an important issue but are unsure what being a good ally entails. Additionally, almost three quarters (72%) feel professional teams and bodies need to do more to lead by example and provide guidance and education in this space - believing that if allyship was encouraged at all levels, the game will become more inclusive and accessible.
To counter this, Just Eat and Football vs Homophobia are launching ‘Allies United training sessions’, with the view of creating hundreds of ‘ally clubs’ by the end of the year. The courses, designed by Football vs Homophobia and funded by Just Eat, will require clubs to attend online workshop sessions, complete self-assessments and put into action key steps that display a commitment to allyship in order to achieve their ally status. Thanks to the initiative, these courses will be free to teams who wish to sign up.
Conor Coady, Wolverhampton Wanderers and England Defender and recipient of the ‘Football Ally Award’ from the 2021 British LGBT Awards said: “Football has been my career, but it’s so much more than that. It’s given me moments I’ll remember forever and friends I’ll have for life, but as a straight man - I’ve always felt welcome in the game. For many in the LGBTQIA+ community that is not the case.
“Active allyship is essential in ensuring everyone feels welcome, valued and included in football and that’s why I’m proud to support Allies United. By providing allyship education and training at grassroots level, this landmark initiative will help build a version of football that is accessible to all, regardless of how you identify or who you love.”
Campaign Director for Football vs Homophobia, Lou Englefield said: ‘For so many LGBTQIA+ footballers, poor experiences at the very start of their football journey affect them negatively for life. While tremendous strides have been made in tackling homophobia in football, if even one player feels unwelcome at grassroots level, there is still work to be done. That’s why we’re excited to be creating this programme with Just Eat and making a tangible difference at grassroots level. The creation of Allies United is a powerful message to LGBTQIA+ players that they are always welcome in the game."
To apply to join Allies United with Just Eat and Football vs Homophobia, visit www.footballvhomophobia.com/AlliesUnited for details on how to make your team more inclusive.