Burnley says no to racism – because we are Premier League on and off the pitch | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

Last week Full Council unanimously passed a motion asking the council to write to the FA, the Premier League and social media companies urging them to work together with the government to reduce hate crime and racial abuse online.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

Proposed by Coun. Scott Cunliffe and seconded by Coun. Bea Foster the motion was brought about as a result of the abhorrent racist comments directed at black England players following the defeat at the UEFA Euros 2020 Final.

Burnley Council sent out a strong message that hatred is not welcome in our borough.

We all recognise that racism cannot be tackled by football alone, it is an issue society needs to deal with and we all need to shoulder the responsibility.

Nobody is born racist, this is behaviour that is learned or unfortunately sometimes even taught.

There was also a call for the council to continue to work with Burnley Football Club, Burnley FC in the Community, and Building Bridges in Burnley to promote community cohesion.

Both organisations have done some fantastic work across our communities over the past 20 years.

Having worked closely with Burnley FC in the Community for many years I have seen first-hand the fantastic way in which they work tirelessly to eradicate this issue.

The club has formed an Inclusion Advisory Board made up of community leaders which pushed for an anonymous ‘CLARETS RESPECT’ text line being set up, in order to encourage reporting any form of experienced or witnessed discrimination in or around Turf Moor on matchday.

The text line is now running and monitored in real time.

Lancashire Constabulary also provides a Dedicated Football Officer on matchdays to address any issues and pre-pandemic worked with Burnley FC to organise the inaugural Hate Crime in Football Conference at Turf Moor.

The Inclusion Advisory Board's work was interrupted by the pandemic, but plans are in place to develop some exciting projects in partnership with the newly appointed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion lead for Burnley Football Club.

In recognition of the club’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion including challenging and preventing discrimination, the club was awarded the Intermediate Level of the Premier League Equality Standard and is currently working towards the Advance Level achievement.

As a season ticket holder this is something I am really proud of.

Building Bridges in Burnley have led from the front to promote diversity and interfaith dialogue since being founded in 2002.

At the height of the pandemic, volunteers engaged faith communities across the borough to support the most vulnerable regardless of faith, culture, religion or race.

A true display of British values and evidence that we are stronger together.

Being British is to celebrate the diversity of our communities, as welcome places where a Canadian born, Mandarin speaking teenager with Romanian heritage, can grow up and show resilience, aspiration and courage to go on and win the US Open.

Finally, you may be aware the council have pledged to support evacuees from Afghanistan, these are families who supported UK efforts during the conflict and put their own lives at risk.

We have a proud tradition of helping those in need and I'm sure when they arrive, we will make them feel welcome.

I say this confidently because we are Premier League on and off the pitch.