I recently met with two senior figures at the Premier League, Executive Director Bill Bush and Head of EU Public Policy Mathieu Moreuil, at my office in Brussels. We discussed racism, sexism and homophobia in football.
I shared my own experience of occasionally feeling uncomfortable at football stadiums in the UK - something which I know many people have also experienced in the sometimes racist, sexist or homophobic language of a minority of people at matches.
We discussed the initiatives to combat discrimination barriers to attending Premier League games; especially in the wake of the World Cup, it's clear that people from all backgrounds and walks of life want to get involved in the beautiful game and it's important that we break down the barriers and prejudices that can stop them.
We also discussed the results of Kick It Out’s report (BBC article here) which found that racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination were 38% higher in the top four football leagues compared to 2017. The Premier League has a number of positive initiatives to improve this and I was impressed with their plans.
We discussed Islamophobia in football and I explained that, while I support politicians working against Islamophobia, Mo Salah has had a greater impact on attitudes in the North West than a hundred political initiatives. We agree to work together on anti-Islamophobia events and events for positive Muslim role models in future on a European and local level.