The Fans For Diversity campaign hosted a series of high-profile fans forums and engagement events in partnership with professional clubs and supporters groups last month.

Fans For Diversity, which is run in partnership by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation, was launched in 2014 with the aim of supporting and funding fan-led activity that celebrates diversity in football.

This season, one of the key aims of the campaign has been to foster greater engagement between football clubs and supporters from a range of backgrounds in their local communities.

Port Vale: Fans Forum

Following on from successful fan engagement events at clubs such as Oldham Athletic and Birmingham City in 2017, Fans For Diversity hosted its first official fans’ forum of the year at Vale Park with League Two club Port Vale.

Taking place on Thursday 8 March, the club welcomed supporters to hear from Anwar Uddin, lead on the Fans For Diversity campaign, as he discussed his work across the country to enable supporters to endorse the messages of equality and inclusion within their respective clubs.

Anwar was joined by Neil Aspin, first-team manager, John Rudge, football advisor at the club, and Mark Porter, Chair of the Supporters’ Club, as they detailed how the Valiants can develop an inclusive environment for all supporters on matchdays and beyond.

Anwar was thrilled with how the first discussion event with fans went.

“What I’ve seen from the fans and the club staff who attended the forum at Port Vale was a real determination to make the club more welcoming for all supporters.

“These events provide the platform to inspire the club and the fans to work closer together to achieve this and I am really looking forward to see how they progress from the great initial step.”

Palace For All: Diversity Discussed

The second event held saw Fans For Diversity and Kick It Out partner with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 22 March to host a discussion on diversity.

Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Player Engagement Manager, presented the evening which saw a panel discuss diversity at the club, with over 100 local supporters given the opportunity to take part and provide their own view on what can make the club more inclusive.

The panel, which featured Fans For Diversity campaign lead Anwar Uddin, first team player Damien Delaney, Palace for Life Foundation trustees Kevin Day and Mark Osikoya and Proud and Palace co-founder Steph Fuller, offered a fantastic insight into key equality issues at Crystal Palace.

Delaney shed a light on the ‘brutal’ and ‘gruesome’ homophobic abuse that is sometimes directed at players, Anwar praised the ‘courage’ of ‘fantastic fans’ who give up their spare time to fight for equality at their clubs and Steph explained how she started Proud and Palace to help provide an ‘identity’ for the club’s many LGBT supporters.

Watford Football Club: At Our Place

On 28 March, the Fans For Diversity campaign visited Watford’s Vicarage Road to take part in a similar event.

Over 100 supporters attended with Scott Duxbury, Watford’s CEO & Chairman, Javi Garcia, Head Coach, and first-team player Tom Cleverley all making appearances on a panel discussion.

Anwar was joined by Samantha McLeod, Kick It Out’s Reporting Officer, to kick off the evening by discussing both the work of the campaign in promoting diversity amongst football fans, as well as Kick It Out’s efforts to combat discrimination and reporting procedures.

Samantha was able to explain to supporters the process that Kick It Out follows when it receives a report of discrimination, including passing it onto The Football Association or the Police and ensuring that a just outcome is achieved for everyone involved.

She was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to supporters directly: “It was a fantastic evening and an excellent chance to engage with the Watford fans about my role. It’s so important that supporters understand how they can report discrimination, and feel confident in the process.

“I was really enthused by their responses and hope that many will feel more empowered to stand up to discrimination if they see it or suffer it themselves.”

Bristol Rovers: Fans For Diversity Evening

On Thursday 19 April, the Fans For Diversity campaign will be hosting a fourth fans’ forum in as many weeks as Anwar returns to his former club, Bristol Rovers.

Anwar will begin the evening, which is open to all Rovers fans, by delivering a presentation about his work for the campaign and equality in football, before the discussion opens out to the audience.

The former Rovers man is looking forward to a trip to a familiar setting.

“I loved my time in Bristol and am excited to come back to a brilliant, multicultural city for an important event. The fans are passionate and care about engaging with their club, so to be able to facilitate that relationship is something I’m very proud of.

“One of our key aims at Fans For Diversity is to ensure clubs are welcoming to supporters from all backgrounds, and I think events such as these are vital to bring about that dialogue with the local community.”