A recent audit of crowd attendance at Fulham F.C showed an increase in the ethnic minorities visiting Craven Cottage. However, this was only minimal over last season despite our continued efforts to make our stadium a friendly and welcoming environment for all members of the community.
With Fulham on the brink of the Premiership the club needs to continue with its work to attract ethnic minorities to the ground so that the supporters coming to watch our games will reflect the multicultural society in which we live.
On Saturday April 7 2001 Fulham Football Club play host to West Bromwich Albion in a Nationwide Division 1 fixture. This game will be the focal point of this year’s anti-racism event.
The opposition becomes even more significant when you realise that W.B.A, back in the mid to late seventies, regularly fielded three black players, Brendan Batson, Cyrille Regis and the late Laurie Cunningham, who are widely regarded as outstanding pioneers in the fight against racism in football.
We are hoping to have two of football’s original “Three Degrees” as our guests on the day. Also scheduled to appear on the day, alongside the Chairman, are a host of celebrities, including the ex-Celtic manager John Barnes, and dignitaries such as the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey.
The event is going to be a fun time for the whole family with face painters, balloon modellers and jugglers to entertain you in addition to the non-indigenous music and dancing that is customary at such an occasion. We will also, once again, be asking you to kick racism out of football by raising a red card just before kick-off.
As always we need volunteers to assist us with the event in a variety of tasks so if you are interested and can offer your help then please contact the Community Department with your details on: 020 7384 4759.
"Black & White Help Fulham Unite" Working Party on behalf of Fulham FC seeks to tackle racism and discrimination in all forms within Fulham FC and the surrounding community.
§ We will endeavour to foster links across communities in order to develop a positive relationship between groups of differing ethnic origins.
§ We are committed to encourage a welcoming, safe and friendly atmosphere for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin and will strive to attract new supporters to ensure our crowds reflect the diverse community in which we live.
§ Fulham FC along with the "Black & White Help Fulham Unite" Working Party are committed to promoting equality of opportunity at all levels within the club.
This is the "Black & White Help Fulham Unite" mission statement which was drawn up and signed on the pitch at Craven Cottage by representatives of Fulham FC and the local community. Its intention is to illustrate the commitment of the club and its staff in raising the awareness of the public and providing an environment in which members from any ethnic origin can feel comfortable.
The club recognises the need to administer to a section of the community that is underrepresented and employs a Community Officer with a special interest in ethnic minorities. Fulham are actively encouraging an increase in the participation by Blacks and Asians through the soccer courses and Adult Education courses that are being organised by the "Football in the Community" scheme. The objective is to redress the lack of representation at coaching and administrative level.
Despite the untimely departure of Andrew Beardall, who was very influential in his short time in the role, the work continues. Dereck Brown has been promoted from within the Community Department and he has been quick to acknowledge that there is no easy solution to a long-standing problem. "We don't expect to change people's perceptions overnight nor are we paying lip service to a subject that is controversial. However, slowly but surely, by liasing with people who have expert knowledge in this area we will instigate change for the better and it will be the community of Fulham FC which will hopefully reap the benefit."
All around the ground there are now signs which state that racial abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and indicate the penalties that offenders can expect to face. There are training programmes and workshops planned for all staff members so that they are better prepared should they be faced with any sort of racial situation in the course of their work.
The first of these training courses is an Anti-Racism and Equality Workshop that is scheduled for Thursday June 10 1999. Members of Hammersmith & Fulham Council's Equalities unit will pass on their expertise to the staff of the Community Department. Fulham have also been quick to utilise the assistance of the "Kick it out" campaign and their representative, Ben Tegg, has been an invaluable source of information for the club.
To attract more ethnic minorities into the ground the Community Department have also given free tickets to Youth Clubs and other local organisations so that groups can sample the atmosphere generated on a matchday without feeling isolated. There are also plans to possibly revise the cuisine on sale at the ground to cater for the cultural differences.
More recently the financial difficulties experienced by another London club has led to Fulham taking over the running of a "Football in the Community" scheme in the borough of Lambeth. This is one of the poorest boroughs in London and has a high ratio of ethnic minorities and a varied cultural mix. It is the intention of the club to give as many of the children within the borough the opportunity to experience football in an organised environment. The club has already donated playing strips to local teams and there will soon be job opportunities on offer within the region.
Many working-class ethnic males view sport as a means to improve their status within society. The high visibility of successful black men in sport has helped to support the impression that sport is one of the few instances in racial interaction where ability is often the only credential required for participation. Sport's attraction to ethnic minorities is based on an assumption that they will receive fair and equal treatment in return for ability and endeavour. Fulham FC have recognised that this belief in equal opportunity should be extended to all levels within the club. The club can claim to be unique as from the boardroom downwards there is a good racial mix providing a relaxed and friendly working environment.
In 1975 there were fewer than 20 black professional soccer players operating within the Football League. More than two decades on and that number has significantly increased. However, the number of Asian players in the professional game is no better than it was then and the ethnic minorities within the audience is disproportionate to those who are interested in and play the sport. The club has noted this imbalance and is playing a positive role in trying to redress it.
Racism is a global concern for society and its impact inevitably touches us all. Fulham FC readily acknowledges that what happens in a small corner of London is unlikely to change the world but change has to start somewhere. The steps outlined so far have been small but, nonetheless, a start has been made. If you re-read the mission statement quoted at the outset you will find that each objective, even at this early stage, is being diligently achieved. The intention is to build on that and to take a united Fulham into the next Millenium.