Online hate and discrimination is a serious problem in football, from the grassroots to the elite. Instances such as the abuse received by three England players following the EURO2020 Final highlighted how widespread discrimination is, and the damaging effects to players, clubs, fans and wider society. As a result, the Online Safety Bill (OSB) has become a key focus for our pro-bono partner Kick it Out, ensuring the Bill meets the standards needed to help fight discrimination online.
To expand their reach and remit in parliament, we laser focused our programme on the impending OSB, from advising on a public affairs and stakeholder engagement strategy, to building their reputation amongst relevant figures. This included seizing opportunities at political events, briefing parliamentarians such as Baroness Karren Brady and running targeted communications to reiterate Kick it Out’s backed amendments for the OSB.
Continued pressure on parliamentary stakeholders was crucial to ensure the Bill is fit for purpose.
We worked with Kick it Out to produce an open letter from the football industry calling on the government to introduce measures such as making sure filters on online hate content were automatically switched on under the Bill and asking them not to remove the requirement to conduct a risk assessment for harmful adult content from it. This was addressed to the Prime Minister and major social media organisations, and received overwhelming support, signed by CEOs of the FA, Premier League and EFL.
Kick it Out have since been invited to meet with the minister for the Bill. As the Bill continues to pass through Parliament, Kick it Out are firmly positioned as one of the leading not-for-profit organisations engaging in the debate.