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Racism in football roadshow heads to Birmingham

FAMOUS FIVE: (from left) Ivan Liburd, Lincoln Moses, Michael Hart and Peter Herbert, with Wayne Henry (front)

IT’S ONE of the most important fixtures Birmingham City Football Club has hosted in a long time – but it won’t be on the pitch.

For Blues is hosting the second leg of the ‘Race for Football National Roadshow’ to finally stamp out racism in the beautiful game wherever it exists – from grassroots up to Premier level.

The free public event, at St Andrew’s Stadium in Cattell Road, Birmingham, will be held on Wednesday, May 22 between 6pm and 9pm. It is being backed by The Voice, the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Phoenix United FC, Leicester’s Nirvana Football Club, which held the first roadshow, and the Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA).

A panel of speakers will include ex-Birmingham City and Jamaican international Michael Johnson, former Tamworth Football Club international striker Gary Smith, Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, and Dr Paul Campbell, of Leicester’s De Montfort University.

The panel, chaired by community activist Desmond Jaddoo, founder of Birmingham Empowerment Forum, will also have contributions from Lincoln Moses, MBE, manager of Continental Star, the UK’s longest running black-led football club, and Rodney Hinds, Sports Editor for The Voice. Representatives from the FA and the campaign group Kick it Out are also expected.

During the evening voting pads will be used to gather immediate feedback from those attending the roadshow, and there will also be round-the-table workshops organised.

Wayne Henry, head of Birmingham-based City United, which is a partner with Phoenix United, is organising the Birmingham leg of the event.

He said: “During the evening we will discuss topical issues of discrimination and racism in our community and sports. Racism is wrong in all forms, regardless of who it targets.

“The use of racist words and behaviour have no age limit, nor are they restricted to white on black abuse. We are calling on the community, the police, educational establishments, grassroots and professional clubs to take this matter seriously and implement a learning process that addresses this dreadful disease of racism. Our goal is to ensure that equality for all become a reality in our lifetime.”

He added: “Previous racial and discriminatory incidents demonstrate there is a real need for solutions and a constructive and informed debate not just within football’s black and Asian community, but the wider community. Every one of us has a role to play in eradicating racism.”

Peter Herbert, who is organising a group to meet members of America’s National Football League (NFL) in Washington next month, is determined to make this an international issue. He is also spearheading an international conference at London’s Institute of Education at the end of the year.

He said: “The Birmingham road show is a significant step towards having the grass roots game help set the agenda on race and diversity in football.

“The football authorities must listen carefully to the black and minority communities’ experiences of racism that are vital to achieve a truly diverse game at all levels.

“The ‘Race for Football’ campaign is bringing together experts from the grass roots and professional game in Birmingham to provide practical solutions.”

Desmond Jaddoo added: “Racism today has become more sophisticated but in football it remains archaic and blatant. The judiciary seems to be out of touch, trying to play down racism on and off the pitch as banter.

“There has to be far more black managers in the game and some high profile black players need to stand up and be counted. In the same way the community must back those players who make a stand. Only with these and many other changes will we begin to win the battle with racism.”

Tickets are available for this free event. To register visit: Registration begins at 5.30pm

Had enough of racism in football? Back our campaign Enough is Enough - Get Onside. Sign the petition here

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