LONDON, (Reuters) – The battle against discrimination in soccer moves to Downing Street today when British Prime Minister David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt, the sports minister, meet senior soccer officials and representatives from anti-discrimination groups.
The idea of the roundtable, according to Downing Street, is to identify what more can be done to make soccer more inclusive with the Government pledging its commitment to working with the football community as a whole to address and tackle the issues.
“In recognising that great progress has been made .. there is more to be done across a range of issues,” Downing Street said in a statement before the meeting.
The meeting was arranged following a rise in racist-related incidents this season, especially those involving high-profile players John Terry of Chelsea and Luis Suarez of Liverpool.
Terry is facing a court trial in July charged with racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League match in October, a charge he denies.
Suarez was handed an eight-match ban by the English FA after he racially insulted Patrice Evra of Manchester United in a League match, in the same month.
Today the Government will also announce 3 million pounds ($4.75 million)of funding towards the FA’s new National Coaching Centre at St George’s Park.
The Downing Street statement continued: “The Centre will help to identify and train the next generation of coaches, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that more coaches from black and minority ethnic backgrounds can take advantage of the facilities and progress to the professional game.” There have been a number of recent initiatives to tackle discrimination, particularly homophobia in football.
On Monday the FA launched its action plan to address this area at the grassroots and communities level, but, said the statement, “more action is needed at a higher level.” ($1 = 0.6321 British pounds)