The upcoming sessions will be organized by England’s PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) and the project has been named The Senior Player Program on Diversity and Equality. The players’ union has sent a message out to all of the nation’s 92 professional teams and told them players must attend. The players will learn what language can and can’t be said to fellow players and fans even while joking in the dressing room. In addition, if a player feels he has been abused verbally or has seen somebody else suffer abuse he will be encouraged to report it.
There have been two high-profile instances of racial abuse in the English Premier League over the past two seasons. Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was found guilty of abusing Manchester United’s French defender and John Terry, the English captain of Chelsea was also found guilty of abusing fellow countryman Anton Ferdinand. Both Terry and Suarez were suspended for their actions. Terry’s case even went to court, but he was found not guilty. The English FA has now introduced automatic five-game suspensions for anybody found guilty of racial abuse.
England is also introducing new contracts which will give the teams power to dismiss players who are found guilty of discriminatory abuse. Gordon Taylor of the PFA made sure all 92 teams are made aware of the training sessions and said they are dealing with the laws of the land and players are expected to abide by them. He said there’s no excuse for the types of incidents that involved Terry and Suarez and the league was embarrassed by these cases.
The training program was created by the PFA and the Football Association helped them out as did the Premier League and League Managers' Association. The sessions will last for 45 minutes and will be taught by two people, with one of them being a former pro soccer player. The sessions will provide players with various examples of abuse dealing with players and/or fans. Players will then be advised how to handle the various scenarios.
Players will be told to stay away from making remarks about a person’s religion or disability as well as anything deemed to be racist or homophobic. If a player believes he’s been the victim of abuse during a game he’s been instruct to inform the referee of it immediately. However, players will be told they shouldn’t go public with their complaints especially on social media sites. If a player is abused in the dressing room or on the practice field he’s supposed to report the incident to the club’s manager, the captain of the team or a member of the coaching staff. Players will also be provided with a hotline number to call the PFA or FA directly.
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