Football result as FA tackles antisemitism

A Football Association initiative will tackle antisemitism and Islamophobia by encouraging cross-community matches, interfaith tournaments and grassroots education.

Faith in Football had its inaugural meeting at Wembley Stadium and will be chaired by Alex Goldberg of the European Centre for Jewish Leadership and the Faiths Forum for London.

Southport Hebrew Congregation's Rabbi Zevi Saunders, who manages MJSL side Crumpsall FC, will also work as part of the coalition.

Its establishment follows recommendations made by an FA commission into antisemitism and Islamophobia three years ago presided over by MP John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

Faith in Football wants to organise cross-community tournaments at stadiums around the country with finals taking place at Wembley.

There will also be efforts to develop football in religious communities. Education sessions will be run at
learning zones at Wembley and other stadiums.

"It's remarkable that we have a consensus within this group that football can promote social action and break down barriers between people of different faiths," Mr Goldberg said.

"Collectively we have a responsibility to tackle faith-based discrimination in the game and a need to bridge the gap between football and religious communities where football has not been played in a structured way."

Football Association equality co-ordinator Jonathan Mills added: "We have been working closely with John Mann on a whole-football approach to tackling antisemitism and Islamophobia. This working group is certainly a step in the right direction in promoting unity between people of different faiths."

The Three Faiths Forum, the Metropolitan Police, the Muslim Women's Sports Foundation and the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign are among organisations working with Faith
in Football.

Its next meeting will take place in September in the Midlands, but sub-groups have already started work in communities around the country.

    Last updated: 3:07pm, July 7 2011