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UEL debates the challenges facing modern football

Sports Science Team

Football needs more diversity, not just on the pitch, or in the dug-out, but throughout the whole structure of the modern British game. This was the key message to come out of a recent debate hosted at UEL’s Sports Dock and organised by Sports journalism lecturer Carrie Dunn.

Panellists included Hayley Bennett, the Education Officer from Kick it Out; Rodney Hinds, sports editor of The Voice newspaper; Danny Lynch, PR Officer for Inclusion from the Football Association; and former professional footballer and now Campaigns and Diversity Officer from the Football Supporters Forum, Anwar Uddin.

Topics of discussion included, whether footballers are suitable role models; are ticket prices too expensive; and how to get more involvement from under-represented groups.

Rodney Hinds bemoaned the lack of BME sports journalists.

“I was at the Chelsea ground on Saturday,” he revealed, “and I looked around in the press box, and I was one of only three black journalists – and that was out of 500!”

On the question of increasing diversity amongst football coaches Danny Lynch felt things were getting better.

“It’s no longer just about ‘who you know’” he argued. “Qualifications are becoming increasingly important. Nowadays you can’t get anywhere without the coaching badges, and that never used to be the case.”

But Hayley Bennett argued that the push for diversity needed to be more wide-reaching.

“We talk about diversifying the coaches, but no-one talks about diversifying the board-room,” she said.  “There’s not much point talking about change, if we’re not talking about change at the top.”

Danny Lynch echoed her sentiments.

“You need to look at the pitch, look at the dug-out, and look at the board room,” he said.  “They are the three key areas.”

In the audience were students of Sports Journalism. The debate was hosted UEL Sports Journalism graduate and now UEL SportsDock membership and marketing assistant, Sian Trimble-Davey.

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.