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Edleen John writes for the England Programme about ongoing fight against racism

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It’s been a difficult year for many of us and as we experienced this summer, football can serve to remind us of some of the things we’ve been missing out on.

Major tournaments are a brilliant opportunity to unite friends, families and the country. They are a hugely exciting time for everybody, and your collective support is what spurs our team on during matches, giving them the best chance of succeeding.

It also became clear following this summer’s tournament that there’s still a long way to go before our game is truly free from hateful and discriminatory conduct and, with everybody’s help, we genuinely want that to change.

Discrimination is a societal issue, but we know it can sometimes manifest itself through football. We want all fans to feel welcome when they come to support our national teams and it’s important that we all play our part in helping to achieve this.

We’ve got to remember and remind each other that watching our national teams should be fun for everyone. Whether you’re a young child or an adult, from the north, south or other parts of the country, or whether you’ve followed the game your whole life or are just getting started - collectively, we should be able to share in the joy of our team’s efforts, whatever the result.

We know that part of football culture is proud alignment with our team’s crest, which is accompanied with joking and wordplay that encompasses that togetherness, but we also know that sometimes, a small minority cross a line that can make it less enjoyable for everyone.

It’s not fun or respectful to use discriminatory chants or phrases, and it’s important that we work together to ensure people know that this isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated, because we want everyone to know and feel that they are welcome.

It’s not behaviour that our players respect or that we can be collectively proud of. So if you’re subject to or witness an act of discrimination during your visit to Wembley Stadium, then please speak to a steward or police officer if you feel safe and comfortable doing so, or text the details to 66566.

We can then look to address this in the moment, restore the safe and inclusive environment and make sure that inappropriate behaviour is thoroughly investigated and handled. We’re clear that any proven perpetrators of this type of behaviour will not be welcome at future England matches.

Reporting discriminatory abuse isn’t just important in the stadium - it’s also important to report abusive online posts too. We’ve seen arrests made after discriminatory comments were directed towards England players during EURO 2020, and we hope these arrests act as a deterrent for those who wrongly believe this type of behaviour is what any true England fans stand for.

Calling out and reporting incidents will give English football and the relevant authorities the best chance of tackling discrimination on the pitch, in the stands and online.

We are really proud that the management team, players and support staff wish to use their platform to take a stand against discrimination. As the team has reiterated, they will continue to collectively take the knee ahead of fixtures as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against injustice and inequality, and as the FA we fully respect and support this choice. It is personally important to the players and the values the team collectively represent, so we hope supporters will respect their wishes too.

Our position is clear: we want a game completely free from discrimination and we will not tolerate prejudiced behaviours at any level. As supporters, we too can embody what the England team stands for, so let’s work together to create an environment that we can all be proud of before, during and after the match.

The original article can be found here.

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